Around half-a-million people had streamed through the “Munch 150” joint exhibit at the Munch Museum and National Gallery by the time it closed Sunday evening. That made the exhibit celebrating the 150th anniversary of artist Edvard Munch’s birth the most-visited ever in Norwegian history.
Museum visitors stood in line for up to two hours during the exhibit’s final weekend, for their last chance to see the largest collection of Munch’s paintings ever on display. The exhibit had opened in June and was spread over the two Oslo museums, with additional exhibits at the site of Munch’s former studio at Ekely, at the University of Oslo’s Aula where Munch painted its famous murals, and at the Freia chocolate factory, where he’d been commissioned to create art for the employee canteen’s walls.
A total of 484,325 visitors went through the main exhibits, while more than 25,000 visited Ekely, the Aula and Freia. Museum officials reported that 38 percent of the visitors were Norwegians, with 14 percent coming from the US and Italy alone.
The exhibit was kept open an extra two hours on its closing day, on Sunday, to accommodate all those waiting in line. The museums also had stayed open until midnight on Friday. Asked why the exhibit couldn’t simply have been extended, given the public interest, a museum official told state broadcaster NRK that many of the Munch paintings on display had been on loan from private collectors and other museums, and had to be returned.