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How to see Edvard Munch's world-famous painting 'The Scream' in Norway

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
How to see Edvard Munch's world-famous painting 'The Scream' in Norway
Here's how to The Scream when in Norway. File photo People view the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch's 1895 pastel on board work entitled 'The Scream' at Sotheby's auction house in central London (Photo by CARL COURT / AFP)

Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' is displayed in the Norwegian capital, Oslo. However, up to four versions are displayed across two different museums.


One of the most recognizable paintings in the world is The Scream by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch. The painting is said to symbolize the anxiety of the human condition. 

The artwork has spawned numerous questions about what the subject, famous worldwide for its hands clasped to face pose, could be so anguished by. 

Another mystery that could also leave art lovers anguished is how actually to see the painting when in Oslo. 

There are four copies on display in two different museums in Oslo. This can make it tricky to determine which is the "right one". 

One version exists in Norway's National Museum, which opened in 2022. Three other versions are displayed in Norway's Munch museum, named after the painter who created the works. 

Munch museum 

At the Munch museum, where entry is 160 kroner for adults, three different versions of the painting are on display. These consist of a painting, a drawing and a print. 

Of these, only one is ever on display at one time. They are displayed on rotation throughout the day. This means that you may need to wait a while to see the version of The Scream that you wish to see. 

The reason for the rotations is to mitigate light damage. Versions of the painting were created on either cardboard or paper. This makes the pieces fragile and sensitive to light exposure. Over time, the light exposure can degrade the colour pigments. 

The blending of colours and how they contrast in the painting is one of its key features, so it is understandable why the museum would wish to try to preserve the quality of the pictures. 

This also explains why the centrepiece in the room is much more dimly lit than the rest of the room. 


The paintings typically rotate every hour. This means that during a 2-3 hour visit, you should see the version you wish to see.

You can also ask the museum staff about when the displays will change. 

The National Museum 

Norway's new National Museum charges 200 kroner for an adult ticket. There, it has one version of The Scream permanently on display. 

Of the four versions in display, the version to appear in the National Museum was the first to be exhibited and debuted in 1895 after being painted in 1893. 

This version also has the barely visible inscription "kan kun være malet af en gal mand!" (could have only been painted by a madman). Research from Norway's National Museum has shown that Munch likely penned the inscription. 


Previously, it was thought that the note was written by a critic or audience member in Copenhagen in 1904. It is presumed that Munch added the message after being hurt and upset by criticism of the artwork. 

Which version should you see? 

While the version housed in the National Museum is the oldest and carries the iconic inscription, the versions in the Munch Museum were also penned by the artist - apart from the print. 

This means that all versions can be considered "original" or the "right version", with the example in the National Museum perhaps considered the most quintessential.

A lot also depends on what you want from a museum experience. The Munch Museum more closely examines the life, artistic outlook and inspirations of Edvard Munch. This helps you to better understand the artist behind the work before seeing one of the versions of The Scream. 

Norway's National Museum, on the other hand, has a lot more work by other artists and a greater variety of exhibitions.

The National Museum houses the collections of Norway's National Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Museum of Decorative Arts, all under one roof. 

If you really can't decide, then both museums are undoubtedly worth a trip in their own right. 


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