New Munch Museum draws a few screams of protest

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The Oslo City Council’s selection of a Spanish architect’s plan for a new Munch Museum has drawn criticism and now a formal protest, from a rival architect who lost the city’s competition round. Meanwhile, one of Munch’s childhood homes is being refurbished but no firm plans exist for it yet.

New York-based architecture firm Rex, led by Joshua Prince-Ramus, isn’t at all happy that the job went to Juan Herreros of Spain. Herreros’ proposal, called “Lambda,” has attracted both enthusiasm and criticism locally but, most important, the right to negotiate further with the city to actually build the museum.

The new museum is supposed to be finished by 2012. Located next to the new Opera House, it’s one of the anchors ofa massive redevelopment projectnow underway along Oslo’s eastern waterfront known as Bjørvika.

Prince-Ramus has filed a formal complaint over the process of the architecture competition and asked that the signing of any contract with Herreros be postponed.

He’s drawn some support from a partner in another firm that made it to the finals along with Herreros and Rex, Tanja Lie of Lie Øyen Arkitekter. She agrees that there were questions over how “real” the last phase of competition with the city’s jury was. “We questioned whether its parallel negotiations were aimed at gathering comparable prices, and an attempt to press them down,” she told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) . “It was a very demanding process.”

Herreros said he “would not participate in the discussion” but said he had no problems with the process. “It was all very clear from the beginning,” he told DN. “We hope there are no delays now. Then the city will be the loser.”

Hav Eiendom, the actual harbor development agency, said Norwegian law must be followed in any bidding process “and we were required to have two phases.” No complaints were made along the way, a Hav executive said.

Another, smaller Munch museum

Meanwhile, an apartment in downtown Oslo that once housed the Munch family when Edvard Munch was a boy is undergoing rehabilitation. The apartment, located at Pilestredet 30B, is where the family lived from 1868 until 1875, where young Munch’s mother died and where he started drawing as a sickly child himself.

The building is now owned by state-controlled Entra Eiendom. The former Munch family flat contains three rooms, a hall, kitchen and two small rooms facing the backyard. No plans have been firmed up yet, but it’s expected to be opened as a small museum itself, or a place to house visiting Munch scholars.