December 8, 2021

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Munch Museum, Edvard Munch | The New Munch Museum

The shape, color and choice of materials in the Munch Museum contrast nearly everything that Edvard Munch represents.

Comments Expresses the opinion of the author.


thought experiment. If I was encountering the new Munch Museum for the first time and knew nothing about it, what would I think it was? hotel? commercial building? a store? warehouse building?

Laboratory to develop new types of weapons? The headquarters of an intelligence organization?

One thing is for sure, that a museum dedicated to one of the greatest artists in the history of visual art would be one of the last things I could think of.

Not because museums have to look a certain way, but because the shape and color of this building and the choice of materials are at odds with almost everything that Edvard Munch represents.

Art Munch is distinguished by its unique generosity. It serves each of us without a filter at all. I saw this, this I experienced, this is what I thought, he says, and now I want to share this with you.

If there is something this building is lacking, it is precisely this instant investigation, where it is located, or rather stands guarded in its gray metal armor with a small window broken at the top, which makes one think of eyes, observation, and control.

So much so that this building says something, it must be this: Don’t get too close to me!

Munch was adept at letting colors express moods and emotions. The color blue in his landscape paintings from the 1890s testifies to a bittersweet melancholy. The red sky in “Scream” is an expression of anxiety and despair, and the bright colors in “The Sun” represent vitality and energy.

Where are these colors in architecture?

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Munch is known for his undulating play, whether it’s painting the coastline at Åsgårdstrand, the silhouette of the hills at Skrik or the outlines of himself in one of his many self-portraits. Sometimes it is as if he is holding the brush in a soft, caressing motion over what he is painting.

At least I can’t say that about the lines in the new Munch Museum, which look angular, sharp, mechanical and strict.

Or maybe I’m the one who’s too strict now and can’t control my biases? I’ve never been completely positive about this building before, to say it well.

Let’s take a look at what other people think about it. Juan Herreros, one of the architects behind the building, for example, believes that the Munch Museum expresses this:

“Well, here I am. I have a legacy of the most important artist in the history of Norway, and I look forward to Oslo and the fjord, because it was the city and its collective dreams that built me ​​».

Have you become wiser to it?

No matter how hard I try, I can’t get my impression of the museum to match. Or with all the others who have said about the crack at the top of this tall building, that the museum revives the building next door, the Opera. Or it resembles Munch’s bent head, as he appears in some of his portraits as an old man.

Honestly, having been outfitted with such a speech, I wouldn’t have had any major problems making the working barracks look like a cathedral.

It shocked me. This is about decorating the bridge. The bride as is. It is very similar to the apartment building designed by Gran Canaria Architects a few years ago.

Now it’s about making it appear as a unique expression of Edvard Munch’s legacy. It is not for museum users to say yes to the proposal, but to have the jury in its time on its knees and ask for her hand.

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But maybe the interior is what counts, I think, and get inside.

Oh my gosh, it’s like getting into an airport terminal! Not in Gardemoen, it certainly has its own architectural characteristics. No, this foyer has an abstract expression that can accommodate anything and lie anywhere.

The foyer only tells me one thing: “This is not a room for me to be in. You keep working.” And I do as the hallway asks me, or walk, or rather, take the escalators to the top of the building.

And everywhere the impression is the same: cheap materials, smooth surfaces, gray, clinical, practical and maintenance-free. This is only a transfer stage. I have to continue, on, …

Yes, it is of course great to see the city high, it must be missing, but it is first and foremost an idea that I look for when I visit the Munch Museum, not the views.

Then I finally got to where the pictures hung. Then everything turns around.

What a blessing to see Munch art again after all these years, and so many of them!

In the old Munch Museum, nearly all of Munch’s art was in magazines, and they simply didn’t have a place. There is more than enough space here, and I see drawings, watercolors, paintings and drawings that I have not seen before other than photographs.

I feared large white rooms with a laboratory atmosphere, as is often the case in contemporary museums. But here’s finally the colors, the colors are what make the photos stand out in a way that I think Munch would have loved.

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At least as importantly, art is not based on chronology, but rather on subject matter. Life, death, annihilation and resurrection. Finally, a place where Munch addresses us directly, as he wanted him to through the universal themes of the frieze of life.

Here, rooms were also built into the rooms, almost like chapels, where some of his most famous works are located. Screams, for example, are embedded in the wall and flanked by a railing, which makes me think of an altar, and I am filled with a mood that encourages me to think of Munch art as if it represented something sacred.

All this I missed in the holiday architecture, humanity, warmth and fun I come back here again.

Was this perhaps what architects have been looking for all along, as some now claim? Was the gray and mundane package necessary in order to increase the enjoyment of art?

of course not.

In competition drafts, interviews, reports, and advertising materials, the museum and its architects praised their building for not being a gray contrast with Munch’s colorful art. There, the connection between Munch and the building, not the contrast, is always highlighted.

The museum and its defenders simply operate with two accounts; One for criticism, where the aesthetics of contrast and argument of provocation apply, and one for ostentation and self-glorification, where the aesthetics of association apply.

But I don’t care about that, because I’m walking around and enjoying Munch’s art. Not until I go out again and have to go through the same soulless misery again.