Muslim Cultural Museum in Oslo, Norway
In 2019 move Munch Museum from Tøyen to Bjørvika. Foundation Dialogue for Peace by Aamir Sheikh spearheaded want to build a Muslim cultural museum on the site to create more understanding between religions.
"After the terrible attack that took place on July 22, there is a wide and strong desire that the Norwegian society should respond with more tolerance, more knowledge and greater respect for differences." This is one of the arguments in the application as Foundation for Dialogue and peace have sent Oslo.
The Foundation wants to take over the site of the Munch Museum in Tøyen when the museum scheduled to move to Bjørvika in 2019. "We have quietly worked to establish an Islamic museum for three years, and believes that the plot of Toyen is very well suited for the purpose. The site is located in central Oslo, and we want to create a meeting place for residents in the area", says Aamir Sheikh, head of the foundation.
He stressed that the museum and cultural center should be neutral and should be run by the Foundation without external interference. It will be called Muslim culture museum.
Together with architect Sverre Svendsen Ratio Architects shows Sheikh forward illustrations and sketches of the museum. The museum is planned with two parts. Part one will partly consist of a small educational mosque to show how a mosque acts and four permanent exhibitions of Jesus, Moses, Abraham and Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). It is also planned a small dome and a minaret to make the museum clearly visible.
The second part will include consist of an assembly hall that seats 500 people. This room could also be rented out to commercial.
"The museum encloses an inner atrium, which provides a beautiful natural light to the interiors and the visitors have visual contact with throughout their journey in the museum", says Svendsen who see the project as a challenge.
"Our goal is that schools and others interested in Islam can get factual information here. Given the increased radicalization in several places in the world, it is important to show what Islam and the other religions stand for", says Sheikh.
"What if you do not get the plot? Our plans are not locked into this plot. We can also build other municipal sites", answer the two.
Money from abroad
The foundation is now in dialogue with Oslo Municipality in terms of the process of a possible takeover of the plot. And even though the price tag is unknown and the funding is not in place yet, the Sheikh tour of Muslim countries to collect money.
"We have already received signals from some Muslim countries that they will assist with funding for such a project. We have also submitted an application to the Ministry of Culture", said Sheikh.
Former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik is in favor of the plans, and will possibly travel to Muslim countries Sheikh to ask for money. "I have been informed about the idea and seen the drawings. It is good for Oslo and Norway that we have a Muslim museum and cultural center in an educational way to explain about Islam and Islamic history because there are so many delusions about Islam in our time because of Muslim extremists who destroy other Muslims. I will be traveling with Sheikh if I have the time and opportunity, perturbed underlining that the center should also have space for dialogue across religions".
Good initiative, but ...
The Chief Minister of Oslo Mr. Stian Berger Røsland (H) think that this is a good initiative. "I think the idea is interesting, but plans are in an early stage. As for plot choices, as there are several plans for the site. For example, talk of building a science center there. Therefore, I can not say whether the municipality will say yes or no to build there, but the municipality will assist in clarifying land issues and land issues", says Røsland.
Board Ervin Kohn of the Jewish community said that plans to establish an Islamic cultural center is very interesting. "This is a constructive idea because there is an Islamic museum in Norway today, and because the museum will focus on dialogue and coexistence. I have certainly not presented plans against our government, but I have seen the plans and positive", says Kohn