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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 September 2006, 07:32 GMT 08:32 UK
Munch's masterpieces back on show
A man views the damaged Scream painting
The paintings are protected by heavy glass boxes
Two damaged masterpieces by Edvard Munch, which were stolen two years ago, have gone back on public exhibition.

The Scream and Madonna were taken by two armed men in a raid in 2004, and picked up minor marks and tears before they were recovered last month.

They will be displayed in Oslo's Munch Museum, protected by heavy glass boxes, until Sunday.

"We wanted to share the homecoming with the public," said museum director Ingebjoerg Ydstie.

"The paintings were not so badly damaged that they could not be displayed without full-artistic appreciation."

You can't see all the damage by eye. Much of the damage is at the micro level
Biljana Topalova-Casadiego,
Munch museum conservator

After the exhibition ends, experts will begin the time-consuming and painstaking process of repairing the artworks.

They will assess the damage, and agree on how to repair the paintings, said Ms Ydstie.

"There is a line between restoring and adding something to the pictures.

"You can't add new elements to an original Munch work."

But the paintings could be touched up with paint if deemed necessary, museum conservator Biljana Topalova-Casadiego told the Associated Press news agency.

Daring raid

The paintings were stolen in 2004 by two armed men who ripped them from the museum's wall after threatening a member of staff with a gun.

The robbers pulled the pictures out of their frames, possibly fearing they could have held tracking devices.

Photographs show damage caused to the paintings

After a series of arrests in 2005, three men were found guilty of charges relating to the theft in May this year, receiving prison sentences of between four to eight years.

Police recovered the paintings in August and handed them back to the Munch Museum.

The gallery released photographs earlier this month which showed a rip in the canvas of Madonna.

The Scream - painted in 1893 and now one of the world's most recognisable artworks - suffered less significant damage.

"One corner is dented as if someone had dropped it, and then there is some damp damage," Gro Balas, an Oslo culture official, told the Reuters news agency.

But Ms Topalova-Casadiego said further imperfections could be revealed by X-rays and microchip technology.

"You can't see all the damage by eye," she said. "Much of the damage is at the micro level."

The Scream and Madonna were part of Munch's Frieze of Life series, in which sickness, death, anxiety and love were central themes.

The artist was a major influence in the modern expressionist movement and died in 1944 at the age of 80.


SEE ALSO
Munch paintings back on display
13 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
Munch paintings 'can be repaired'
01 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
Stolen Munch paintings found safe
31 Aug 06 |  Entertainment
Three guilty of The Scream theft
02 May 06 |  Entertainment
Trial fails to solve Munch mystery
02 May 06 |  Entertainment
Scream museum defends theft game
25 Oct 05 |  Entertainment
Munch's agonising masterpiece
22 Aug 04 |  Entertainment

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