New MUNCH: Opening speech
Madam Mayor of Oslo,
Mr Governing Mayor of Oslo,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I think that I speak for all of us when I say that we have been looking forward to this day! It is finally possible for us to gather together, and soon the great doors will open up a new attraction – not just for our capital city, but for Norway, and for the world.
Because we all share ownership of Edvard Munch. People all across the world feel a connection to Munch’s art. He belongs to all of us. We can see ourselves in our encounters with his trail-blazing works – our own light and dark sides. He strips away all that is unnecessary, and hones in on the essence of human life: Love and angst. Joy and sorrow. Life and death.
Using canvas and paper he opens our eyes – his works reveal us to ourselves. He painted his own life – and at the same time captured the lives of all of us.
The frail boy from Løten grew up to be Norway’s greatest visual artist. When he died he left his entire collection to all of us. The City of Oslo has had stewardship of this magnificent legacy at the museum at Tøyen since 1963. Now Munch has arrived in this splendid building in Bjørvika – raised over the cornerstone laid by the Crown Princess on 14 October 2016.
Today we mark the start of a new life for Munch.
And we celebrate the completion of an extremely complicated moving process – which has succeeded not just by a squeak, but with eight Screams. Along with more than 42 000 objects – from the smallest paintbrush to the largest painting – that make up the immense gift the artist bestowed on the community.
Our new Munch Museum is substantially larger than the previous one, and yet it is already filled to the brim with art. The next step is to fill the building with people, and people’s minds and spirits with new experiences.
The world comes to Oslo to view Edvard Munch’s works. And we enjoy sharing his essential nature with the world at large. Because although Munch is part of the bedrock of Norwegian culture, he belongs to everyone everywhere.
Because he painted us in his image.
And now his images are waiting for us.
Before we all go inside, I will undertake the formal opening of the museum. And I have enlisted the aid of someone who has deep insight into both the art and the building.
I am very pleased to ask the Queen to cut the ribbon.
But before she does, it give us great pleasure to say together: We hereby declare MUNCH open!