Norway is screaming. Everywhere you go in Oslo there is the famous image of Edvard Munch’s anguished soul, hands pressed to face as the sun sets into a melancholy blue fjord.
The occasion is the 150th anniversary this year of the artist’s birth, and the country is pulling out all the stops: the tourist board is inviting visitors to recreate The Scream in their favourite Norwegian holiday spots, artists are putting on mass “screams” in public parks, and two major Oslo museums are hosting a critically acclaimed retrospective of the artist’s works.
But Munch fans have a lot more to look forward to. Finally, after years of deliberation and dispute, the city has agreed to build a new museum dedicated to Munch on the Oslo waterfront. Earlier this year the city rubber-stamped the budget and design: a striking glass tower by the Spanish architect Juan Herreros which leans towards the equally-modern opera house.
The present Munch Museum sits in a 1960s building in an eastern suburb, where only a fraction of the 28,000 works owned by the Oslo municipality can be displayed in dark rooms with low ceilings. The new museum is expected to open in 2018 or 2019.
Stein Olav Henrichsen, the director of the Munch Museum, says: “Everybody knows about The Scream: not everybody knows it’s Edvard Munch, and not everybody knows it’s a Norwegian artist.” With a new building four times the size of the current museum, he is hoping to change that.