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More Japanese funds for Munch

Idemitsu Petroleum Norge, a subsidiary of the Japanese energy giant Idemitsu Kosan Co Ltd, is once again providing funding to preserve the legacy of famed Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. Idemitsu is donating NOK 4 million to help finance a major Munch  jubilee in 2013.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg showed off Munch's newly restored "Skrik" to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2008. Idemitsu had helped pay for it. PHOTO_ SMK

The money will be distributed over a four-year period and plans call for it to help fund a special exhibition of Munch’s work to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth.

It was Idemitsu that came forward with funding for the Munch Museum in 1991 as well. That’s when the Japanese company provided NOK 57 million to finance major improvements to the museum at a time when Norway was in the midst of an economic downturn.

Idemitsu also opened its wallet after the museum’s most famous paintings, Skrik and Madonna, were stolen during a commando-style robbery in 2004. The paintings were recovered in 2006 but were damaged and needed careful restoration. Idemitsu, which has done business in Norway for more than 20 years, contributed NOK 4 million to the project.

“We want to give something back to Norwegian society,” said Idemitsu’s managing director in Norway, Kohsuke Tsuji. “We look forward to be able to extend our good cooperation with the museum.”

Munch was born at Løten, in Hedmark County, in 1863 and left a vast collection of his works to the City of Oslo when he died in 1944. Museum leader Magne Bruteig already has concrete plans for Munch’s 150th jubilee, involving a major exhibition of paintings in conjunction with Norway’s National Museum with special showings of Munch drawings in the spring of 2013 and graphics in the autumn.

The museum is expected to eventually move into new quarters on Oslo’s waterfront at Bjørvika. Tsuji told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) that he expected Idemitsu’s support to continue in the new location.

It’s also possible the museum can once again turn to Idemitsu for help in funding needed conservation of other Munch paintings. City officials, who have been accused often of neglecting civic art, aren’t willing to fund the NOK 22 million needed to rehabilitate 892 paintings that art experts fear won’t tolerate a move to a new museum.

Mikkel Krebs, administration chief for Idemitsu, told newspaper Aften on Wednesday that “we’re always open for proposals on new cooperation.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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