Located on the banks of Reykjavik’s Tjörnin Lake, the National Gallery of Iceland is the country’s most important art museum. Home to a vast collection of 19th- and 20th-century Icelandic art, it also houses works by international artists such as Pablo Picasso, Edvard Munch, Karel Appel, and Richard Serra.
The museum’s permanent collection, containing around 10,000 works, is showcased through a series of rotating exhibitions, spread throughout three floors of gallery space. Among the highlights are pieces by famed Icelandic artists including Thorarinn B. Thorlaksson, Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval, Bjarni Jónsson, and Einar Hákonarson, along with a variety of modern sculptures, installations, and paintings by young and emerging artists.
A private sightseeing tour that can be customized to your interests can include a visit to the National Gallery of Iceland.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The National Gallery of Iceland is a must-visit for those with an interest in art and culture.
- An admission ticket to the national gallery also allows entrance to three other museums: Sigurjon Olafsson Museum, Asgrimur Jonsson Collection, and the Culture House.
- Children under 18 get free entrance.
- The entire building is wheelchair-accessible.
- The on-site cafe, Kaffitár, serves light refreshments, coffee, and Icelandic delicacies.
- The Gallery Shop sells books on Icelandic culture and handcrafted souvenirs.
How to Get There
The National Gallery of Iceland is conveniently situated in the center of Reykjavik, close to many hotels and a 5-minute walk from City Hall and 10-minute walk from Hallgrimskirkja. If traveling by bus, the Frikirkjuvegur stop (served by multiple routes including 1, 3, and 6) is next to the gallery.
When to Get There
In the summer months (May through September), the National Gallery of Iceland is open every day from 10am to 5pm. In the winter (October through April), it keeps the same opening hours but is closed on Mondays.
Founded in 1884 to house the personal art collection of Icelandic lawyer Björn Bjarnarson, the national gallery was originally based in Copenhagen, Denmark (Iceland was still part of the Kingdom of Denmark then). A number of key works in the gallery by Danish artists including Joakim Skovgaard, Christian Blache, and Peder Krøyer nod to its birthplace. Landing on Icelandic shores in 1916, the gallery was adopted as a department of Iceland’s National Heritage Museum, making it the country’s oldest art institution.