Oslo’s Disputed $314 Million Munch Museum Gets Green Light

Edvard Munch’s 28,000-item collection needs a new home.

Rendering of the Lambda, the new Munch Museum designed by Estudio Hereros.
Photo: Courtesy Estudio Hereros.

After battling repeated waves of opposition, Oslo’s city council has announced that it will resume its controversial plans to built a high-rise museum in the Norwegian capital devoted to the artist Edward Munch.

“Now we’re counting on the museum opening at Bjørvika in 2020 as planned,” city councillor Raymond Johansen told Aftenposten this past weekend, according to News in English. The new Munch museum, which is also known as the Lambda, will have a hefty bill of up to NOK 2.7 billion ($314 million).

The project has been plagued by uncertainty and delays over the years. Most recently, city officials have grown concerned over the problematic development of a neighboring project on the eastern waterfront, a new city library, whose costs have overrun significantly following leakage issues. Both projects underwent cost assessments and were subsequently approved.

“We’re managing the taxpayers’ money, and have been clear about the need to go through the costs of all large investment projects,” Johansen told Aftenposten, explaining the long-winded process. “Our conclusion is that the budget framework of NOK 2.7 billion is firm,” he added.

Countering opposition to the new high-rise, Johansen pointed out that, given the amount of money already invested in the waterfront project, scrapping the Lambda building and expanding the existing Munch Museum at Tøyen instead would be just as expensive. It would also mean giving up the NOK 605 million that the government has already allocated for the project, he added.

Edvard Munch, New Snow in the Avenue (1906). Photo: Munch Museum.

Edvard Munch, New Snow in the Avenue (1906).
Photo: Munch Museum.

The painter Edvard Munch (1863-1944), considered a national legend in Norway, bequeathed all his works still in his possession to the city of Oslo, a donation which comprised over 28,000 items, including paintings, sketches, photographs, sculptures, and notebooks.

In 2008, after deciding that the current museum was no longer able to meet the standards required for the correct maintenance and display of the collection, Oslo’s city council decided to build a new museum which will house these precious holdings adequately.

In 2009, the Spanish architect Juan Herreros was announced as the winner of architectural competition launched for the porject.

The Lambda is a 12-story building that stands on a 3-story base. With its vertical shape and ultra modern glass skin, the Lambda’s design has been criticized by many, according to Visit Oslo, for its tall and dominating shape.

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