On August 22, 2004, armed robbers stole Edvard Munch's "The Scream," one of the most famous paintings in the world, from the Munch Museum in Olso, Norway. "The Scream" is one of the inspirations in naming this magazine.

In addition to "The Scream," robbers stole Munch's "Madonna" in broad daylight as museum-goers watched in disbelief. Guards were threatened at gunpoint while the robbers used wire cutters to remove the paintings from the walls. No alarms went off and the guards did not prevent the robbers from fleeing. The getaway car, shattered glass, and the frames were found two hours later. There is concern for the safety of the paintings without the protection of their glass and frames, especially since "The Scream" was painted in tempera on cardboard. The slightest fold could ruin it.

Ten years ago another version of "The Scream" was stolen from Oslo's National Art Museum and held for ransom. It was recovered three months later in a sting operation. Since both paintings are so famous it is doubtful that any private art collector would ever buy them. It is speculated that the thieves will try to ransom them as well. Officials are outraged that the paintings were not better protected in light of the theft a decade ago.

The Munch Museum is currently under reconstruction and will open in the summer of 2005. Improvements will include systems for managing visitor flow, metal detectors, new mounting devices or protective devices for paintings, and upgraded break-in and fire detection systems.

Update: Paintings burned? Read the article in Norway's Aftenposten.