Munch’s studio wanted as museum

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Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s studio in Oslo has been suggested as yet another venue to display his famous art. A veteran art collector in Oslo wants to make the house where the expressionist painter worked during the last years of his life into a small museum.

The former studio of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch at Ekely is now the subject of a new museum campaign. PHOTO: Sven Goll

Kristian Nordberg, an 83-year-old engineer and art lover, wants to raise money for an additional Munch Museum at Ekely on Oslo’s west side. Munch lived at Ekely until his death in 1944.

“Norway has not been very generous to Munch,” Nordberg told newspaper  Aftenposten.  “It’s absurd to see how the local authorities in Oslo have used Edvard Munch’s estate.”

Nordberg pointed out that when Munch died, Oslo inherited art worth billions (of Norwegian kroner), his home and his studio as well as 45,000 square meters of grounds at Ekely. The city has long been criticized for failing to take good enough care of Munch’s art, and local authorities “agreed to tear down his lovely gabled wooden house in the Swiss chalet style during the 1950s, without giving a thought to the importance it might have for the future,” Nordberg added.

Today the grounds are filled with houses and studios set aside for artists. Only a small plot remains around Munch’s studio, which he had built in 1923 in the Art Deco style. The building remains unaltered since the days the artist worked there. Nordberg envisages adding a new entrance with a shop. Inside the studio his work room would be furnished with easels and an environment similar to the way Munch had it.

“I’ve presented the proposal to Oslo’s mayor, Fabian Stang and Jørn Holme, who heads the directorate that preserves Norway’s cultural heitage. Both were enthusiastic,” Nordberg told Aftenposten. “I dare not guess what the project would cost, but it doesn’t have to be that much. I don’t have the money myself, but I would be willing to make an attempt at raising it.”

Nordberg also thinks the  local authorities might be able to find the means in connection with the new Munch Museum planned for Bjørvika on Oslo’s eastern waterfront. It remains a matter of debate, though, with Holme himself objecting to the latest designs for the project and others wanting to simply retain and enlarge the existing Munch Museum at Tøyen.

Nordberg is undeterred. “I hope Oslo will establish a small Munch museum at Ekely,” he said. “In France, hundreds of thousands visit artists’ homes. The building costs would be small change, compared with what it could give back to the city.”

Views and News from Norway/Sven Goll
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