About the digital archive project

The Munch Museum’s project related to Edvard Munch’s writings was set up in August 2007. The initial phase, A Digital Archive, was launched on 20 January 2011. The second phase, Edvard Munch's Writings in English (2011–2012), involved establishing authorised English translations of a selection of Munch's writings equipped with commentaries and accompanied by supplementary articles and facsimiles of the originals. The aim of the third phase, Correspondence to Munch (2012–2015), is to publish online the 6000 letters to Munch in the museum's collection. The transcriptions of these will be equipped with commentaries and accompanied by facsimiles of the originals and they will be linked to the texts, persons and institutions already in the digital archive.

The volume of Munch’s own texts is estimated at about 13,000 pages and consists of everything from literary diaries, letters and drafts of letters to exhibition lists and notes. The Munch Museum owns roughly 90% of the material. Already in the first years of its existence the museum began the task of transcribing these texts and searching for unknown Munch correspondence. The transcriptions have always been available to visiting scholars. The Munch Museum is now fulfilling its own wish to make all Munch’s collected letters, notes, exhibition lists, literary texts, as well as the correspondence he received from friends, acquaintances and business associates, available on the internet as a flexible, searchable historical and critical primary source.

The publication is easily accessible for young students and other interested parties as well as satisfying the demands of scholars for accuracy. The digital archive contains digital facsimiles and encoded transcriptions of the original manuscripts. The transcriptions are reproduced diplomatically. This means that Munch’s own orthography is reproduced as accurately as possible, so that all misspellings, cross outs and the length of the lines will be shown as they were originally written. In order to make the material searchable, it is encoded according to name, place and date. In addition, the publication is accompanied by commentaries, by art history and literary research topics, as well as links to relevant works by the same artist.

Munch’s texts represent unique educational and research potential. As opposed to other visual artists with a literary production, it is difficult to distinguish between Munch’s literary and more private writing. The majority of Munch’s texts – the literary journals and letters – are an essential part of his rhetorical emphasis on the inseparable connection between life and art. The artist’s own childhood experiences, romances, friendships and intrigues are constantly referred to in his broad range of writings.

The project was financed with funds from Arts Council Norway, the Fritt Ord (Freedom of Expression) Foundation, The Municipality of Oslo's Kunstsamlingenes institutt for vitenskapelig forskning (KIVF), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tate Modern and The Municipality of Oslo via The Munch Museum.