According to the excessive expressionist Edvard Munch, the opening of the new Munch Museum in Oslo - today for children and tomorrow for the Norwegian royal couple and the rest of the adults - should be a few superlatives. The museum not only preserves the entire estate of the most famous Norwegian artist with 26,700 works - including furnishings, notes with poems and Munch's clothing. It can now finally present over four hundred outstanding paintings, drawings and graphics in eleven large halls, because the new building is five times larger than the old Munch Museum. The new building has a sky-storming twelve storeys and with its sixty meters towers over its direct neighbors in the former container port of Bjørvika,the much-photographed snow-white Norske Opera by the construction office Snøhetta, by a lot, even though the museum by Estudio Herreros (with the German architect Jens Richter), at over two hundred million euros, was a lot cheaper than the slippery marble opera house next to it.

Stefan Trinks

Editor in the features section.

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Above a striped plinth made of perforated aluminum plates, which from a distance is reminiscent of the typical Norwegian rock layers and reflects the harbor water, the upper floors jump back significantly, while the top three with their spectacular panoramic view over Oslo even bend to prevent cubic boredom. If the exterior of the skyscraper-like museum splits public opinion with a kink, the enthusiasm for its content is undivided: it is the quintessence of a complete life's work, unique in its abundance, that cannot be experienced anywhere else in the world. Since Munch always kept the best pictures for himself or at least stipulated in the sales contracts that he could borrow the sold picture at any time to make a copy,which then turned out to be an original as a modified variation, the museum can seamlessly reproduce his artistic vita from the very first picture as a student to the last.

This lifelong variation and experimentation can already be physically experienced in the gigantic hall of the so-called "University Pictures" from 1909 to 1916 for the auditorium of Frederiks University in Kristiania, today's Oslo: The first thing visitors come across is the almost five by eight meter canvas of a sun, which as a single picture element is still as big as a yellow VW Beetle from the seventies. It shines against the sweeping white surfaces of the panoramic screen and actually creates the impression of an all-animating central star. Various variations of the equally huge "The human mountain, towards the light" hang around, whose bodies reach real human size. If the title is translated as "mountain of people", as is often the case, this could arouse unpleasant associations,and indeed the university rejected Munch's first draft. But if one grasps the liveliness of the composite body, piled up by tangling in its light colors, the association with Dante's Läuterungsberg shows through, but at the same time the optimism that Munch painted in this picture is just as strong.

The newly built Gigantensaal cleverly exploits all the advantages of its size: Using a still monumental plaster model of the “Human Mountain”, it can show that Munch worked permanently in and with all art media such as sculpture, including photography at an early stage as evidenced by a refreshingly silly series of a dozen selfies of him, which he made with a small camera in his hand, which was held away from his body like a selfie stick, as early as 1902.

And then of course there are only three versions of Munch's “Schrei” in the treasury built into the hall of the main works, which are specially secured after the temporary theft of the picture.

Also in terms of conservation, because the red of the shown “Schrei” version from 1910 does not fade, but has been getting darker in the light for years.

In the darkened installation, the wall shrine with one of the three versions of this Norwegian “Mona Lisa” opens every hour, including the particularly valuable pastel preliminary study from 1893.

Keywords: munch, oslo, museum, quintessence, doors, plaster, norske opera, fire heaven, edvard munch museum, building, expressionist, opening, times, works, munch museum