In Norway to study Munch's paintings: Beatrice's experience


Thanks to the Erasmus+ internship programme, Ca' Foscari students can spend time at major organisations and institutions in Europe developing specific and transversal skills and putting their academic knowledge into practice.

This programme allowed Beatrice Boracchi, a Master's student in Conservation Science and Technology for Cultural Heritage, to join the team of scientists in the conservation laboratory at the MUNCH Museum in Oslo a few months ago. 

We asked Beatrice to tell us about her experience.


How did you decide to join the project?

I had always wanted to do an internship abroad, because I believe it is a great way to enrich one's curriculum. International experiences are one of the reasons why I chose Ca' Foscari as my university to attend the Master's degree.

As for the destination, the choice of the Munch Museum in Norway is linked to the kind of things they do there: it is one of the few museums in Europe with its own conservation laboratory
I also liked the idea of a work experience outside the strictly academic boundaries, as I wanted to see another side of conservation, beyond the University.


What were your tasks at the Museum?

I worked on several projects with the conservation lab team at the Museum. I was involved, for example, in the restoration of Munch's painting called 'The Vampire' and tried out new cleaning methods that employ nanogels to remove deteriorated paint.

The Museum acquired a very powerful, state-of-the-art Hirox microscope that can perform 3D scans of painted surfaces: I worked mainly with this instrument, which shows us the changes in the morphology of the painting surface after restoration.It was a very positive experience, both on a professional and personal level. The head of the lab, Dr Irina Sandu, entrusted me with a variety of tasks and also showed a lot of confidence in my skills.


What do you take home from this experience?

The three months I spent in Norway were crucial for my university and professional career. The work I carried out at the Munch Museum will become the subject of my Master's thesis. I plan to focus on the causes of colour deterioration in the blue areas of three important works by Munch (The Drowned Boy, Old Man in Warnemünde and The Death of the Bohemian), and on the characterisation of the artist's original art materials.

While in Norway I also had access to some of Munch’s original materials. This allowed me to sample approximately 20 tubes of oil paint and to carry out in-depth analysis on the paint he used. I wanted to ascertain a possible correlation between the paint formulation and the darkening of the paintings.

Beatrice with the Munch Museum restoration workshop team

In addition, the head of the workshop - a truly inspiring person - will also co-tutor my thesis. I am really grateful to the colleagues I have worked with and, if I manage to graduate in time, I would like to apply for an open position at the Museum next year.