Stein Olav Henrichsen, Director of the Munch Museum, Norway. Photo © Einar Aslaksen
1.What is your museum about and what is your work there?
Edvard Munch is a pioneer of modern art and the creator of the iconic “The Scream”. The Munch will be one of the world’s largest museums dedicated to a single artist and will be the number one destination for experiencing Edvard Munch’s life and art.
The new Munch Museum by Oslo’s waterfront will be a meeting place for everyone for all types of cultural occasions. The Munch wants to broaden the idea about what a museum is, and provide opportunities for completely new experiences and perspectives. Visitors to the new museum will always be able to experience the highlights of Edvard Munch’s artistic career, alongside changing exhibitions of works by other artists.
The Munch Museum will also feature works by young contemporary artists, and will curate programmes of temporary exhibitions that will reflect the artistic practices of both well-established names and exciting newcomers.
As well as this we also have The Munch Live – a new programme dedicated to multidisciplinary practices within different art forms, encompassing music, performance and film, as well as talks and conversations. Taking place in purpose-built concert spaces with superb acoustics, we offer an independently curated programme developed in collaboration with Norwegian and international partners, as well as events complementing our exhibitions.
2.What is the impact on your digital activity? Do you have tips to share with your colleagues?
Our digital activity gives us the opportunity share stories and interviews with fans of Edvard Munch all over the world. We’ve also been successful reaching out to new audiences with Munch’s art creating awareness and interest in addition to show digital contemporary art experiences through social media and our web platform. I think our digital art experiences is making it easier for everyone to experience art on their own terms.
With an ambitious program for children and young people, the Munch Museum will convey the possibilities and mindsets of art in ways that inspire, engage and feel relevant to our younger visitors. At the Munch, we want to give children and young people insight into the almost endless possibilities and mindsets of art.
We want to offer them experiences they will not find anywhere else, neither at home nor at school; experiences that allow them to see the world with new eyes and enrich their lives.
3.What advice would you give a visitor to fully discover your museum?
With 11 galleries, the Munch Museum offers a range of approaches to Edvard Munch’s art and life, as well as works by other Modernist and contemporary artists. I will recommend to take a day at the Munch to visit all the different exhibitions, take in the amazing views of Oslo on the top floor.
Take a break in the nice Munch Deli on ground floor and finish the visit in our museumshop which has a broad selection of merchandise ranging from totebags, liteature about Edvard Mucnh and unique pieces of jewelry in all price ranges.
4.What are the future projects of your museum?
We have had a fantastic start to the new Munch Museum. By the end of the year we reached over 170,000 visitors since the opening 22 October. We expected around 30,000 visitors the first 3 weeks, and we ended up with a fantastic 100,000! We are very much looking forward to continue to give visitors great art experiences and to show more Munch Museum than ever before, along with world class contemporary and modernist art.
The interest of Edvard Munch makes it possible for us to lend out works by Edvard Munch, and to collaborate with renowned art institutions worldwide. With the new museum and the facilities that comes with it, we will be able to bring art to Norway that has never been shown here before.
One of the museum’s most important tasks is to generate and disseminate knowledge about Edvard Munch and his art. Our research is central to this work, and we will continue this work in our new museum. As we are a research-based institution, one of our aims is to broaden ideas about what research in a museum is and can be.
In addition to traditional and important research within the fields of art history, conservation and collections management, we conduct research in areas such as learning, digital communications and audience experiences. In our new strategy, we focus on interdisciplinary research within the following areas:
- The Museum’s collections
- Edvard Munch
- Programming and audience experiences
Another important aspect of the museum’s research concerns conservation. Research into Munch’s painting techniques and materials during the various periods of his career will always be of interest to many people. In addition, our researchers are investigating the significance of Munch’s choices of materials and past conservation measures to the works’ current conditions. The results of such analyses help us to identify potential methods for preserving Munch’s art for the future.
In recent years, a major effort has been undertaken to digitalize Munch’s writings and correspondence, in addition to translating some of his writings into other languages, including English. Easier access to Munch’s art and writings has led to an increase in research outside Norway into his artistic career, and we collaborate on a regular basis with museums, universities and businesses both in Norway and abroad. Digitalization gives room for countless opportunities, and has made it possible for the museum to reach out to a much larger audience than before.
It challenges the way we work, and inspires us to innovation and forward thinking. During the corona-crisis, we have intensified our work on this field, and we are now offering digital art experiences to people who cannot visit the museum physically.
We see that the art of Edvard Munch means a lot to a lot of people around the globe, and through different digital platforms, we are now also able reach new target groups. We continue to spread knowledge about Edvard Munch and his art, now also through livestreams, digital workshops, guided tours and online panel debates.
The Munch Museum is located in Oslo, in the Tøyen area and was inaugurated in 1963, where the artist lived as a teenager. To date it is among the largest museums in the world dedicated to a single artist. In one of its rooms there is the most famous work, “The Scream” of which there are four versions all painted between 1893 and 1910 and the best known version was stolen twice, in 1994 and 2004.
In the first version of the work, in 1904 the inscription “It could only have been painted by a madman” was found; only after in-depth studies, it was confirmed that this sentence on the canvas at the top right was written in pencil by the artist. The Munch Museum was redesigned by Estudio Herreros and was inaugurated in October 2021: its 60-meter-high profile redesigned the city’s skyline and is an eco-sustainable building because it produces less than half the emissions of other similar buildings. Since 2010 Stein Olav Henrichsen is the director of the Munch Museum.