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Tuesday, 28 October 2014 12:06

Oslo’s City Council Approves Munch Museum Plan

Oslo’s city council approved a plan for a new Munch Museum on the waterfront in a vote on 22 October. A new building designed by the architecture firm Herreros will be constructed at a cost of 2.8m Norwegian kroner. A few weeks ago, the national government announced that it would support the project with 605m kroner of funding; the city had originally asked for 920m kroner, so it will have to make up for the difference elsewhere. A vote on the zoning is still due to take place in November.

The long-delayed project has hit a number of political hurdles since the architects were first chosen in a competition in 2009.

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On Wednesday, March 13, 2013 Norwegian officials announced that the country’s government would help fund a new museum devoted to the influential painter and printmaker Edvard Munch (1863-1944). The new institution will replace the current Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway, which was built after World War II in a notoriously rundown neighborhood. Many believe that the shoddily constructed museum does not do justice to Munch, his art or his legacy.

The city council has been discussing the creation of a new museum since 2008 but plans were stymied by disagreements over cost, location, and architecture. After years of disputes and little progress, the Norwegian state decided to step in by offering to help fund the $278 million project as well as assist with project management. State officials are asking Oslo’s city council to make a formal request for the support, which would hopefully lift the museum out of its dismal financial situation.

Upon his death in 1944, Munch bequeathed a large portion of his collection to the city of Oslo including two versions of his seminal painting The Scream. While many people hope that the government’s offer will help move the museum project along, others are not as optimistic. Carl Ivar Hagen, a member of the city council, doesn’t expect the matter to be resolved anytime soon. Hagen believes that even with the state’s assistance disputes over the new museum’s location will continue to halt progress.

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Monday, 14 January 2013 13:36

Damaged Picasso Murals Could be Torn Down

Between the late 1950s and early 1970s Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) completed two major concrete murals on separate government buildings in Oslo, Norway. After suffering severe damaged during a terrorist attack on the city in 2011, the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage fears that the monumental public masterpieces could be demolished.

Officials have been considering tearing down the buildings, which make up Oslo’s government quarter, and integrating the salvaged murals into a new structure or relocating the work to an entirely new site. However, some feel that altering and moving the work would destroy Picasso’s vision. A number of architects are working on proposals that include both retaining the buildings, which are important examples of Norwegian architecture, and leveling them. The various plans will be presented to the minister for government administration this summer.

Picasso made sketches for five murals that were executed as both interior and exterior works. The project in Oslo was the first time Picasso had ever worked with breccia, a rock material composed of broken rock and mineral fragments held together by a fine-grained matrix. Although He went on to create similar works in Barcelona and Stockholm, the Oslo murals remain seminal works for Picasso.

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A vintage print of a photograph by Edvard Munch (1863-1944), which is now in the collection of the Munch Museum in Oslo, might be headed to the Centre Pompidou in Paris. One of an edition of five, the photograph shows Munch in his garden around 1930. The work was part of the collection that Munch bequeathed to the city of Oslo.

Last month, the city’s government asked Oslo’s parliament to approve the deaccession of the photograph so that it could be sold to a major international institution and made more accessible to the public. In response to the proposal, a member of Parliament pointed out that the deaccession is in contrast to Munch’s will that states that his works should be kept together. While a long-term loan is a possibility, city officials are asking Parliament to vote on the Munch sale.

The Centre Pompidou has offered nearly $50,000 for the print. The Oslo government expects a decision to be made in 2013.

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