More than a thousand people were today deprived a glimpse of Edvard Munch’s famous painting “The Scream” as Oslo security guards went on strike, forcing museums in Norway’s capital to remain closed.

The Munch Museum, which houses the biggest collection of works by Norway’s most famous painter, remained closed to visitors today after security personnel joined a nationwide strike.

The museum, located in Toyen, east of the city center, was forced to overhaul security after “The Scream” and another Munch masterpiece, “Madonna,” were stolen in an armed raid in August 2004. The paintings were recovered two years later and restored. Since then, security controls have tightened in an effort to prevent a repeat of the 2004 raid.

“The security is not high enough for visitors,” Lise Mjoes, deputy director at the museum, said in telephone interview in Oslo. “Munch is the most well known artist outside Norway. It’s a pity for the visitors.”

More than 2,400 security personnel nationwide are striking following a breakdown in pay talks. The Munch Museum had to turn away about 500 visitors today. The security workers’ union has threatened to extend the strike if their demands for higher pay aren’t met.

The National Gallery, which has a second version of “The Scream,” also painted by Munch, will have to turn away about 1,000 visitors a day, according to gallery spokeswoman Elise Lund. Norway’s Museum of Architecture is also affected by the industrial action. The museums’ weekend security staff isn’t affected be the strike, Lund said.

Threat to Escalate

The Norwegian Union of General Workers has threatened to escalate the strike on June 21 if employers’ representatives and unions fail to agree on wages. The strike is also causing disruptions at airports, cash machines as well as state-run liquor stores.

Munch died in 1944. He left his works to the City of Oslo.