“Krohg-gate” shakes up a cultural debate
Famous painting removed and then reinstalled at the National Museum
After a massive outcry of criticism dubbed “Krohg-gate,” a reaction to putting the 1893 painting “Leiv Eiriksson Discovering America” by Christian Krohg into the basement storage area of Norway’s National Museum in Oslo, the museum has again put the work on display for public viewing.
“Christian Krohg was a very important artist, and when we see how much involvement this case has generated, we will discuss it in a constructive way,” National Museum Director Karin Hindsbo told the newspaper Aftenposten on Feb. 20.
The decision to put Krohg’s work in the basement sparked a debate about so-called cancellation. The backdrop is that the museum’s director of collections, Stina Högkvist, called the work “colonialist.”
In an interview with Aftenposten published on Feb. 18, Högkvist said, “The picture is a romanticization of Norwegians who went to America. It is a colonialist image.”
Högkvist later regretted and retracted her controversial statement.
Hindsbo further explained: “It has never been about cancellation or ideological motives. The National Museum does not deal with that sort of thing. Creating a presentation of a collection of over 400,000 objects is about choice.”
“Krohg is one of Norwegian art history’s most significant artists, and in the collection presentation, he is represented with 13 paintings, so he is far from being canceled by us,” Hindsbo added.
A place in the stairwell
“Leiv Eiriksson Discovering America” was shown for several years in the stairwell in the old National Gallery but has never been part of the collection put on display when the new National Museum opened on June 11, 2022.
On Feb. 20, it was decided that Krohg’s work will nevertheless be displayed for four weeks on the first floor of the National Museum behind the lobby at the entrance to the main exhibitions.
This article originally appeared in the April 2023 issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.