Munch Museum’s opening postponed

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Oslo’s new Munch Museum has long promoted a planned opening in early June this year, but now that’s been postponed. Officials at the City of Oslo, which officially owns the museum and its priceless collection of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s art, announced Monday that the museum won’t open until sometime this autumn.

Oslo’s new Munch Museum already towers over the eastern waterfront at Bjørvika, just next to the Opera House from which this photo was taken. The museum was due to open in early June, but now that’s been delayed until the autumn. No new date has been set. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no/Morten Møst

They blame delayed deliverance of fire- and security doors in the new building that’s costing around NOK 3 billion (USD 333 million) to build on Oslo’s eastern waterfront at Bjørvika. They also cited the lack of a satisfactory indoor climate system that will ensure the preservation and exhibition of the city’s 1,150 paintings, 7,500 drawings and 18,000 graphics by Munch that will be displayed. Operation of the ventilation and climate system installed has not yet met requirements.

The city stated in a press release that the new museum has an “advanced climate system,” but that its testing and regulaton hasn’t been completed. Requirements for its “stable operation” have not been fulfilled.

“We have set in place measures to ensure that the demands of the heating and cooling system (in the new museum) are met,” stated Eli Grimsby, who’s responsible for the city’s cultural and athletics buildings and acts as official owner of the new museum building. She stressed that the city won’t officially take possession of the museum building until the testing and its satisfactory results are documented.

None of Munch’s art will or can be moved into the new building until that’s completed. The delayed takeover of the building forced postponement of the museum’s opening and all the special events planned around it.

No date has been set for the actual opening, which museum officials otherwise have promoted for the past few years. Museum officials even chided their counterparts at the National Gallery when it closed nearly a year ago in order to prepare for its move to the new National Museum still under construction on Oslo’s western waterfront. Its opening has since been delayed as well, also because of security concerns, until sometime next year.

There were no apologies in the statement issued Monday, only a message from museum director Stein Olav Henrichsen that it was “important” that the new museum building provides “good conditions both for our art and the art we will take in on loan.” Henrichsen added that he and the rest of the museum’s staff looked forward to move in.

“The Munch Museum manages Edvard Munch’s art, which is considered Norway’s most important contribution to international art history,” Henrichsen stated. “The new museum will be fantastic, with both our own collections and international exhibitions.” He added that museum staff was now working to draft the consequences of the delayed move “and adjust plans accordingly.” The Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra’s chamber music ensemble, for example, planned concerts inside the museum in late May and August. It was unclear whether they’ll be postponed as well.

Munch himself willed his own collection of his art to the City of Oslo in 1940. He died in 1944 but it took the city nearly two more decades to build the current Munch Museum in Oslo’s Tøyen that already was too small when it opened in 1963. It will now remain open through this summer until the last of Munch’s art is moved to the new museum.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund