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The Henie Onstad Kunstsenter raises its institutional voice in order to save the Y-block in Oslo with murals by Picasso

Press release   •   Sep 16, 2019 16:28 BST

​For the first time in its history, the Henie Onstad museum organized a public demonstration to save the Y-block with murals by Picasso in Oslo.

In Norway, the cabinet has decided to demolish one of the government buildings and a key work within Norwegian modernist architecture, Erling Viksjø´s Y-block (1969) with murals by Pablo Picasso.

The decision to demolish the Y-block has been met with massive protests from heritage organizations, architects, city planners, art historians and other professionals within the field. Both The Norwegian UNESCO Commission, ICOMOS and Europa Nostra have implored the responsible minister to rethink the cabinet’s decision.

For the first time in history, the Henie Onstad museum, a leading institution for modern and contemporary art in the Nordic region, organized a public demonstration in Oslo. On September 13, the museum used its voice to stress the importance of preserving this important architectural building and its site-specific artworks by Pablo Picasso and Carl Nesjar, which are important in Norwegian and international history of art and architecture.

-The decision to demolish the Y-block has not taken into account adequate alternatives to preserve the building and it does not take into account its unique architectural qualities and its works of art, says Tone Hansen, Director of the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden in Norway.

More than 250 persons joined the demonstration, all dressed in Picasso-inspired striped shirts.

As late as June 2011 the Y-block was scheduled to be listed for the highest level of heritage protection. This process was stopped as a result of the terrorist attacks on the 22th July 2011. Despite the bomb, the Y-block remained structurally sound, with Picasso’s art works intact. Nonetheless the cabinet decided to demolish the Y-block for various reasons.

Since then, the building has become an important symbol of the perseverance of democratic values, even in the face of inconceivable atrocities and human loss. The building also play an essential part in preserving the government quarter as a memorial, carrying witness to what happened there.

The political arguments in favour of demolition have varied, from economy, to cityscape, environmental issues and security. None of them hold much weight, once scrutinized.

The demolition work is planned to start in October 2019 and a petition has been organized to save the building. More than 20.000 persons have already signed and the protestors demand to be heard.

https://www.change.org/p/norwegian-government-save-oslo-s-y-block-with-murals-by-picasso

HOK is a leading venue for 20th century and contemporary art, as well as music and experimental sound works. The Art Centre is located in a large sculpture park by the fjord, about 15 minutes drive from Oslo.

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