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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Munch battle not over

It’s enough to make fans of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch scream in frustration. A political battle over where to place a new museum in his honor just doesn’t seem near a solution.

Hopes rose last week when a loud public debate between Oslo officials and the country’s highest historic preservation official buried the hatchet. The city government is keen to build a high-rise museum on Oslo’s eastern waterfront at Bjørvika, and riksantikvar (preservation boss) Jørn Holme finally won assurances of more open waterfront space elsewhere. Holme had worried that the new museum, planned for a site next to the Opera House, would block views towards the oldest part of Oslo.

Many others still have such worries, and now city opposition politicians are threatening that they’ll stop the museum project if they win city government power in the fall elections. “So the people can basically decide where the museum can lie,” said opposition candidate for mayor, Libe Rieber-Mohn. She and other Labour Party members want to build a new Munch Museum at the site of the existing museum in Oslo’s Tøyen district.

Even if the current city government tries to push through a final decision on the museum before the election, Rieber-Mohn claimed that a new government led by her could simply refuse to provide funding.

So the Munch debate is set to continue, delaying the project yet again. At stake is the public display of all the Munch masterpieces that the city inherited from the artist when he died in Oslo in 1944.

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