Munchmuseet/The Munch Museum in Tøyen, Oslo
When I’m in a city with a museum named for the artist, I feel this deep obligation that I must visit their titled building. If I delay and remind myself that I’ve already seen their greatest works in other museums, I begin to have this growing guilt in the pit of my stomach. It is as if my creative being shrinks and consumes me at the same time, becoming emancipated and ready to leave me for someone who is worthy of its presence.
When I was young, my family had an annual membership to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. I haven’t been back to visit in decades, but at that age the MIA seemed massive. I have fond memories of spending Saturdays gazing up at art pieces and sitting on the floors during my drawing and painting classes in the summer. That said, part of me finds museums to be a snore-fest. I’ve learned the unfortunate habit of losing attention at museums.
In order to learn to unlearn this habit, we visited Munchmuseet, The Munch Museum, in Oslo. The Munch Museum houses over half of Edvard Munch’s entire painting collection and at least one copy of all his prints. Upon entering and exiting the exhibit, as well as throughout the hall, there was high security. It was nearly 10 years ago that the Munch museum experienced one of the most notorious art heists in history. Thieves armed with pistols entered during museum hours and ripped two paintings off the walls — “The Scream” and “Madonna”. Munch’s paintings were recovered about two years later. However, this was not the first time “The Scream” has its brush with criminals. In 1994, the Museum parted ways with “The Scream” when thieves took it and left a note in its place saying “Thanks for the poor security.” With the greater security in place, I cannot imagine the museum falling victim to theft again.
There are four versions of “The Scream.” While “The Scream” in pastel and decorated in vivid colors is the most widely recognized, it is privately owned and not on public display. The Munch Museum carries another version in tempera, and the colors are duller and seemed matted. Overall, the museum is a great 1-2 hour stop for the art-curious.
Munchmuseet/The Munch Museum * Tøyengata 53, 0578 Oslo, Norway * +47 23 49 35 00