Where can I see The Scream?
At MUNCH in Oslo, you can find three versions of The Scream – a painting, a drawing and a print. One of these is always visible. The two others rest in darkness.
Edvard Munch's The Scream is one of the world's most famous motifs. There are several versions of The Scream, and eight of these are in the MUNCH collection today. In addition, we have sketches, studies and texts. The eight finished versions consists of one painting (tempera and oil on cardboard), one drawing (crayon on cardboard) and six lithographs.
In the collection exhibition Edvard Munch Infinite, on the 4th floor, a version of The Scream will always be on display, either as a painting, drawing or print. None of them can be permanently displayed, so we are showing them in rotation during the day.
Why can not all versions of The Scream be on display all the time?
Munch created all versions of The Scream on cardboard or paper, making them more fragile than oil paintings on canvas. In addition to climatic factors such as temperature, humidity and oxygen levels, light exposure must be limited. Light affects the colour pigments in the pictures, and also breaks down paper and cardboard over time. In recent years, the museum has conducted several research projects to establish how much light the various versions of The Scream can withstand each day.
None of the versions can be exhibited all the time, so they are displayed on rotation. By doing this, we can ensure that future generations can enjoy and marvel at Munch’s powerful motif.
What does The Scream really mean?
Edvard Munch’s most famous motif is an open narrative. The main protagonist is strangely enigmatic – it belongs to no class or culture, has no specific gender or ethnicity and is strikingly timeless.
The motif probably originated on an evening stroll that Munch took with friends in 1891, as the sun was setting over the Oslo Fjord. In the years that followed, he explored the motif diligently in sketches and texts, and made four colourful artworks and dozens of prints. Today, there are eight finished versions of The Scream in the museum’s collections, one painting, one pastel drawing and six lithographs.
All the versions are different, but equally powerful. Note the group of men Munch has places in the background, standing on a straight road that disappears into infinity. This makes their distance from the figure in the foreground even more obvious. What arouses angst and despair in one person may be insignificant for another.
Further reading: 5 things you should know about The Scream