This week, Oslo's new Munch Museum finally opens to the public!

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the 2004 theft, Opera House, Stenersen Collection

Oslo’s iconic Munch Museum is back and better than ever, following a multi-year, multi-billion kroner renovation. The museum revamp comes with a name change in tow. This is no longer the Munch Museum; this is MUNCH.

The original Munch Museum was built on Tøyen in 1963 to house Edvard Munch’s treasured collections, which the artist bequeathed to Oslo Municipality after his death in 1944. But fast forward a few decades, and Oslo has a museum in need of a revamp and change, plagued by the 2004 theft of two prized pieces: Madonna (1894) and The Scream (1910).

In 2008, the Oslo City Council finally agreed to erect a new Munch Museum in Bjørvika, after a years-long debate. A year later, Spanish architectural firm Herreros Arquitectos won an open competition to design the new museum – at a new location in Bjørvika.

However, the new building would take another decade to complete. Political and logistical issues and disagreements delayed the start of construction. As a result, the building’s stone foundation wasn’t laid until October 14, 2016. But now, five years later, MUNCH is officially opening its doors to visitors this Friday, October 22, 2021.

See also: The complete guide to museums in Norway

Situated bayside in the Oslo fjord, the building stretches over 26,000 square meters. It houses a marvelous collection of around 28,000 original works by Munch, in addition to the Stenersen Collection. Over 200 works will be exhibited permanently in the museum.

MUNCH boasts 11 exhibition halls with 4,500 square meters of exhibition space. In aiming to be a state-of-the-art museum, it’s home to additional offerings such as a restaurant, café, rooftop bar, shop, cinema, and concert halls.

With an awe-striking waterfront location next to the Opera House, “MUNCH transforms Oslo’s skyline, yet bows respectfully towards the city that surrounds it. This is the architects’ vision,” states the museum website.

See also: Has a time of reckoning come for Norwegian museums?

A timeline: The Munch Museum becomes the MUNCH museum

  • 1963: The Munch Museum opens on Tøyen to house Edvard Munch’s collections, which the artist bequeathed to Oslo Municipality after his death in 1944.
  • 2008: A majority of cross-party politicians in the Oslo City Council is in favor of relocating the Tøyen Munch Museum and the Stenersen Collection to Bjørvika. At the time, the debate about moving the Munch Museum had already been going on since the beginning of the 2000s.
  • 2009: Spanish architectural firm Herreros Arquitectos wins the competition to build a new Munch museum. However, protests against the building and the move continue.
  • 2011: In September, the Progress Party withdraws its support for the new building and leaves the City Council as a result of the case. Two months later, the City Council decides to shelve the plans and instead look into possibilities for a new Munch Museum on Tøyen or Tullinløkka.
  • 2013: Conservative Party, Liberal Party, and Christian Democratic Party members of the City Council enter into a trade with Socialist Left Party members to build the new museum in Bjørvika – in exchange for a large-scale upgrade of the Tøyen area.
  • 2016: A new red-green City Council (with Labor Party, Socialist Left Party, and Green Party members) follows up on the plans, and the stone foundation for MUNCH is laid on October 14.
  • 2020: The opening of the new museum is planned for 2020, but is postponed several times.
  • 2021: The grand opening of the new Munch Museum is set to take place on October 22, 2021, just over five years after construction began.

Source: ©️ NTB Scanpix / #NorwayTodayTravel

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