Munch’s art lands at Oslo’s airport

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Airline passengers taking off or landing through the new international terminal at Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen will soon experience more of Norway’s affluence and cultural heritage. The new terminal itself is sleek and ultra-modern, and now airport authorities have sealed a deal with Oslo’s Munch Museum to display original works by Norway’s most famous artist.

The new display of Edvard Munch’s art will be set up in the new central pier of OSL’s international terminal in December. ILLUSTRATION: Avinor

Not many airports around the world are able to display valuable works of art by Edvard Munch, but Oslo can. The first painting will be place in December, just in time for the Christmas holiday rush of travelers.

The museum and state airport authority Avinor will jointly mount Munch’s painting Hode ved hode (Head to Head) from 1905, along with a lithograph based on the image. It depicts a woman’s head leaning into the man’s with eyes closed while his head features a hard stare that makes him seem detached. The museum has described the painting as expressing “the complex relationship between people and how difficult it can be to attain mutual understanding, security and bonds.”

The museum is opening an exhibit later this month that also will be called Head to Head, featuring the art of Per Inge Bjørlo and Lena Cronqvist paired with Munch’s art. Travelers passing through Oslo’s airport will thus get a sample of the exhibit that runs through January 28, and that’s part of the idea behind the 10-year agreement between the museum and Avinor.

“The cooperation with Oslo airport (OSL Lufthavn Gardermoen) gives us an entirely new and exciting arena for the Munch Museum,” says its director, Stein Olav Henrichsen. He noted in a press release on Wednesday that “many thousands of people travel through this part of the terminal every day, and we’ll get a unique opportunity to introduce Edvard Munch to a new audience.”

Øyvind Hasaas, director of OSL, said airport officials “are very proud to be able to display one of Norway’s greatest artists to travelers from the whole world.”

The mini-exhibit of Munch’s art in a specially designed, and presumably well-secured, display case is expected to be the first of at least nine more over the next 10 years. The art will be replaced with another Munch painting once a year.

The new exhibit at the recently expanded OSL Gardermoen is part of a comprehensive program to display Norwegian art at the airport. The Munch Museum, meanwhile, is responsible for the huge collection of Munch’s work that the artist himself willed to the City of Oslo after his death in 1944. The museum has long been too small to exhibit it all, and a new, much larger Munch Museum is under construction on Oslo’s eastern waterfront at Bjørvika.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund