Economics Museums Norway

Norwegian government steps in on Munch Museum row

Funding is contingent on local politicians settling their differences

Something to scream about: the museum dedicated to Norway's most famous artist is run by the city of Oslo. Various proposals to rehouse it have come to nothing

The Norwegian national government has indicated that it will help fund Oslo’s Munch Museum, as long as the city’s politicians can resolve their differences and the collection moves to a new building. The museum dedicated to Norway’s most famous artist is run by the city of Oslo. Various proposals to rehouse it have come to nothing, and it now faces a cut in its budget, which could see the loss of 16 posts, almost a quarter of the staff (The Art Newspaper, April 2013, p26).

“Edvard Munch is one of our most important artists and the state wants to participate in building a new Munch Museum,” says the Minister of Culture, Hadia Tajik.

A plan to move the collection to a new, larger building was cancelled after the right-wing populist party Fremskrittspartiet (FrP) withdrew its support. The conservative and liberal parties that together form a minority administration in Oslo still want to move the museum to a new home on the water front. Oslo’s social democrats, who are in opposition in the local parliament, want to build a new museum at its current location in the Toyen district of the city.

The FrP would like to move the museum to the building occupied by the National Gallery, which is due to move out in a couple of years. Carl I. Hagen, who leads the FrP’s Oslo council group, was the first to ask for state support of the museum in 2011. “I appreciate they are finally following my suggestion,” he says. However, Hagen is currently unwilling to support the local government and give it a majority for its plan to move the museum to the waterfront.

Meanwhile, Idemitsu Petroleum Norge, a subsidiary of one of Japan’s largest energy companies, has announced that it is extending its sponsorship of the Munch Museum, providing NKr10m ($1.7m) over five years.

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