Greinasafni: Söfn
The Einar Jónsson Museum
THE MUSEUM   see video here
In 1909, Einar Jónsson offered all of his works as a gift to the Icelandic people on the condition that a museum be built to house them. This gift was not accepted by the Icelandic Parliament until 1914, however. The Parliament contributed 10,000 crowns to the construction of the museum, while a national collection yielded 20,000 crowns in private donations. It can be safely said that the Icelanders had from the very beginning shown a special appreciation for the art of their country's first sculptor and had fully realized the value of his gift to the nation.

Jónsson chose to locate the museum on the top of Skolavorduhaed, "a desolate hill on the outskirts of town," as he puts it in his autobiography. The museum was the first building to be constructed on the top of the hill and Jónsson realized what possibilities this location, the highest in town, offered. Like some of his contemporaries, he dreamt of Skolavorduhaed becoming the political and cultural Acropolis of an independent Iceland. The museum was built according to a plan by the artist and it may thus be said that the museum building constitutes his biggest sculpture. The building served as his studio, as a gallery for his works and even as his home. The museum building is indisputably the work of Jónsson, although it was the architect Einar Erlendsson who officially signed the plans for the museum in June 1916, the same year the foundation of the museum was laid.

The Einar Jónsson Museum was officially opened on Midsummer's Day in 1923. This was a watershed event for Icelandic art, as the building was the country's first art museum. The building rises from a high and heavy pedestal, as if it were a sculpture, and its architectural style mirrors the stylistic upheaval of the turn of the century, a time during which people were searching for new forms of expression. It is not possible to place the building under any one stylistic heading. Far from being an expression of classicism, the building is a typical example of eclecticism; in other words, ideas from a variety of different sources were utilized in its design. A similar attitude is prevalent today as we near the end of the century; no single style is dominant and everything is permitted.

The museum's penthouse apartment, probably the first in Iceland, is unique, and the view from the apartment one of the most beautiful in Reykjavik. Jónsson and his Danish-born wife, Anna Jorgensen, established a modest yet cosmopolitan artist's home there, furnishing it with uncommon furniture and art. The Jónsson home is part of the museum and is preserved in its original condition.

The museum contains close to 300 art works spanning a 60 year career: carvings from the artist's youth, sculptures, paintings and drawings. A beautiful tree-clad garden adorned with 26 bronze casts of the artist's works is located behind the museum. The task of the museum is to collect, preserve and display the work of Einar Jónsson and conduct research on his life and art. The museum is a private institution funded by the Icelandic government. The statutes of the museum are set forth in the artist's testament of September 11th, 1954.

The director of the museum is art historian Júlíana Gottskálksdóttir. The museum's Board of Trustees is comprised of: Sesselja Snaevarr, who is also the chairman, Hjalti Hugason, Gudrún Erlendsdóttir, Sigurður Helgason and Laufey Gudjónsdottir.

The Einar Jónsson Museum
visiting address: Eiriksgata
mailing address: P.O. Box 1051
IS-121 Reykjavik Iceland

Phone: +354 551.3797, +354 561.3797
Fax: +354 562.3909
Web site:

Museum hours: June - September 15th, open Tuesday-Sunday 14.00-17.00. Closed on Mondays. September 16th to May 31st, open Saturday and Sunday 14.00 - 17.00. Closed in December and January.
Adults     kr. 600
Students with ISIC card     kr. 400
Concessions (over-67/disabilities)     kr. 400
Children under 16
Groups of students accompanied by teacher
The entrance to the sculpture garden is on Freyjugata. The garden is always open and admission is free.

Plaster casts of works by the artist are sold in the museum shop, as well as books about his life and art and postcards of his works.


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