Reykjavík Art Museum
Reykjavik Art Museum is the largest art museum in Iceland, situated in three different locations: Hafnarhús, Kjarvalstaðir and Ásmundarsafn. Each museum has its own characteristics and emphases; the different exhibitions, as well as the buildings themselves, providing you with a unique experience. If you yearn to soak in art and culture as well as the city itself, you should get yourself a day pass and stroll between these different parts of Reykjavik Art Museum and experience the city on the way.
Hafnarhús The Harbour House
Just by the harbour, this is the biggest of the three locations. With its wonderful view over the bay, the building itself is interesting to visit, its raw elements creating an interesting harmony with each different exhibition along with the café and museum shop one can find there.
Hafnarhús is dedicated to contemporary art and has six galleries, one of which always contains a permanent exhibition of the works of Erró, who donated a huge part of his life’s work to the Reykjavik Art Museum. The art of this Paris-based pop-artist has acquired international critical acclaim and the museum’s collection contains more than 4,000 of his artworks. Currently there are two exhibitions by the artist on show, the one showcasing 200 of his drawings and the other, seven fairly large ceramic tea pots.
Kjarvalstaðir is located in the so-called Klambratún, one o
f Reykjavík’s most popular outdoor spots just east of the city centre. This fine building is named after Iceland’s most beloved painter Jóhannes S. Kjarval (1885-1972). Kjarval’s roots lay in the old Icelandic rural community, but his life and art are tightly bound to the cultural awakening of the nation in the first half of the 20th century. His mystic vision of Icelandic landscape enables the viewer more often than not to experience the Icelandic mountains and mosses in a different way. There is a permanent exhibition of the key works of Kjarval in Kjarvalsstaðir along with other exhibitions of various themes and media.
Ásmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum
This is located in a spectacular building in the east side of
Reykjavík. Ásmundur Sveinsson (1893-1982) was a sculptor, who built this house and used it as his home and studio. He sought inspiration for his magnificent sculptures in Icelandic nature, literature and the common people. Both the garden surrounding the museum and the museum itself are filled with Sveinsson sculptures and produce a wonder-world which is magical to visit.
Each of these three parts of Reykjavik Art Museum shows the visitor a different side, a different period, and a different medium of Icelandic art through the 20th century. A walk between the museums may be a bit of an exercise (Icelanders would call it a long walk although it’s surely short on the scale of big city walks); perhaps you might want to take the bus. On a lovely day, however, it is a good opportunity to get to know the city while taking in the art and culture of the city.