Everything We Own

– the Art of Edvard Munch and More

At the heart of Munchmuseet’s collection is the extraordinary gift bequeathed by Edvard Munch to the people of Oslo in 1940, four years before he died. The bequest comprises a collection of nearly 28,000 paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures, and is unique worldwide. A less known fact is that the museum also owns three other art collections. These were also given to the public by private individuals, and together they provide a unique insight into almost a century of Norwegian art history. Our final exhibition before the museum moves to a brand new building will present works from all four collections alongside each other for the very first time.

The exhibition will include famous and less well-known gems from the collections, with the twin aims of showing the span of the works, and telling the stories of the people behind them. In addition, we want to ask: What obligations do we take on when accepting an art collection as a gift? And how have these obligations helped shape us as a museum?

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The exhibition will contain major works by Edvard Munch, including The Dance of Life, Madonna, Puberty and The Kiss. The exhibition will also include several landscape paintings by Munch, interspersed with landscape paintings from the other collections. The paintings will be hung chronologically, giving a unique insight into the development of landscape painting in Norway, from the 19th-century paintings of Amaldus Nielsen to Jakob Weidemann’s masterpiece Forest Floor.

In addition, we will display a true gem of Norwegian art history: Rolf Stenersen’s collection of naive landscapes by Johan Berner Jakobsen (1859–1939). Originally a fisherman from Northern Norway, Jakobsen taught himself to paint, and works by him were included in a group exhibition at Kunsthall Oslo in 2010.

The exhibition will also offer visitors a rare opportunity to see the work that goes on behind the scenes at the museum. The move to Bjørvika involves a major conservation effort, and as part of this exhibition we will bring our conservation activities into the gallery space, allowing visitors to see at close hand what is involved in preserving an art collection.