'Scream' sustained damage

Associated Press

Experts fear that theft damage to Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream," one of the world's most famous images, may be too extensive to completely repair, according to a report to be released today.

The painting and another Munch masterpiece, "Madonna," were recovered by police in August, two years after they were stolen from Oslo's Munch Museum by masked gunmen in a brazen daylight heist on Aug. 22, 2004. Police have refused to say how they recovered the artworks or where they had been for two years.

After extensive study, museum experts are turning over a 200-page assessment to Oslo police that among other things expresses concern about moisture damage to a swath of "The Scream."

"Water has been absorbed by one corner of the paper board, and there is abrasion damage on the lower part of the painting," museum curator Ingebjoerg Ydstie told the TV-2 network. "We have a large swath that is very visible."

She said the museum is still assessing what to do about the damage and if it can be fixed and so no decision had been made.

"There are types of damage we can't do anything about," museum restoration expert Anne Milnes told TV-2.

"The Scream" is probably the best known of Munch's emotionally charged works and was a major influence on the Expressionist movement. In four versions of the painting, a waif-like figure is apparently screaming or hearing a scream. The image has become a modern icon of human anxiety.

Museum spokeswoman Jorunn Christoffersen said Thursday that the museum would not comment further until after the report has been released but referred to a statement posted on the city-owned museum's website. The statement said it was not clear how long it would be before "The Scream" could again be exhibited, and repairs to "Madonna" were expected to take even longer.

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