Reykjavík's best museums and designer boutiques
There are a growing number of interesting museums, galleries and boutiques to visit in Reykjavík. Here’s our guide to some of the capital's finest.
Hafnarhús – Reykjavík Art Museum
Across from the Reykjavík harbour, one will find Hafnarhús (meaning “harbour house”). The museum holds artwork by Erró, one of the pioneers of pop art in Europe and one of Iceland’s best-know contemporary artists, and regularly displays experimental art by renowned Icelandic and international contemporary artists, as well as young, up-and-coming talents.
The museum building also includes a curious boutique, a library, a café (with a view over the bustling harbour area) and a children’s space.
Open: 10 am – 5 pm
Thursdays 10 am – 8 pm
Kjarvalsstaðir Museum is located in Klambratún park, in a beautiful modern building designed by Hannes Kr. Davíðsson in 1973. The museum maintains continuous exhibits from its collection of works by influential painter Jóhannes Kjarval.
The exhibitions at Kjarvalsstaðir focus mainly on paintings and sculptures of the established masters of modern art.
The building also includes a wonderful boutique, a fantastic café (with a gorgeous outdoor area open in summer) and a children’s space created by design studio Vík Prjónsdóttir.
Open: 10 am – 5 pm
Ásmundarsafn is dedicated to the life and work of sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson (1893-1982). The museum is located in an unusual building that once was the artist’s home and studio and designed by Ásmundur himself. Ásmundur donated the building along with a large collection of his work to Reykjavík city.
A beautiful sculpture garden surrounds the building, containing around 30 sculptures by Ásmundur.
Ásmundarsafn also regularly holds exhibition of works by other artists, which often tend to have some reference to Ásmundur’s art.
Open: May – Sept: 10 am – 5 pm
October – April: 1 pm – 5 pm
Þjóðminjasafn Íslands - National Museum of Iceland
The National Museum of Iceland was founded in 1863 when artefacts previously kept in Danish museums returned home to Iceland.
The museum’s permanent exhibition, Making of a Nation – Heritage and History in Iceland, aims to provide insight into Iceland’s history, dating from the country’s settlement and to the present day. Two exhibition spaces on the second floor are dedicated to hands-on learning, ideal for children.
Open: May – September: 10 am – 5 pm
16th September – April: 10 am - 5 pm. Closed Mondays.
Árbæjarsafn – Árbær Open Air Museum
Kistuhylur, 110 Reykjavík
Árbæjarsafn is an open air museum than features more than twenty beautifully preserved buildings that form a village, giving visitors a glimpse of what “old Reykjavík” used to look like. Most of the buildings have been relocated from the city centre.
Open: June – August: 10 am – 5 pm
September – May: 1 pm for guided tours or by appointment
Hverfisgallerí is a small but interesting art gallery located on Hverfisgata, next to the government offices. The gallery represents a good number of young and extremely talented local artists and well worth a visit, art-collector or not.
Open: 1 pm – 5 pm
Nýlistasafnið – The Living Art Museum
Marshall Húsið, Grandi harbour area
The Living Art Museum is a non-profit, artist-run organisation founded in 1978 by a diverse group of artists. Over the last 35 years, Nýlistasafnið, also known as Nýló, has offered a varied programme including art performances, film and video screenings, live music, and lectures. The museum is currently located in the Reykjavík suburb of Breiðholt but will move into the Marshall-building on Grandi harbour, central Reykjavík. The former fishmeal factory is being converted into a new venue for contemporary art and will house Gallery Kling og Bang and artist Ólafur Elíasson’s studio and exhibition space in addition to Nýló.
Open: Thursday-Friday: 12am – 5pm
Whales of Iceland
Fiskislóð 23, Grandi
The exhibition Whales of Iceland is located in a 1,700 square metre (18,299 square feet) large space in the Grandi harbour area of Reykjavík. The exhibition is the largest of its kind in Europe, with twenty-three handmade, life-size specimen models on display, some of which weigh up to 2 tonnes (4,409 pounds). The exhibition shines a spotlight on the whales found off the coast of Iceland, their biology and behaviour. This educational and interactive exhibition has been wildly popular among school children who enjoy learning more about these gentle giants.
Open: 1 September- 31 May: 10am - 5pm
1 June – 31 August: 10am – 6pm
Inside Reykjavík’s oldest house, you’ll find the designer boutique Kraum. The space is chock-full of Icelandic design of all sorts, shapes, and sizes: Clothing, designer knick-knacks, jewellery, toys, and local delicatessen, to name only a few.
Open: 9 am – 6 pm
Kiosk is a designer collective run by a group of young, local, aspiring fashion designers. The boutique is very popular among Reykjavik’s fashionistas and has been featured in numerous international fashion magazines. Although a bit pricy, the wonderful designs are well worth the splurge.
Open: Monday – Friday: 11am – 6 pm
Saturday: 11 am – 5 pm
Farmers Market was founded in 2005 by designer Bergþóra Guðnadóttir and musician Jóel Pálsson. The idea was to produce a collection made from organic and recycled fabrics with references to the brand’s Nordic roots as well as romanticism. Their flagship store, located on the harbour, carries the brand’s latest designs and accessories.
Open: 10 am – 6 pm
Ígló & Indí
Skólavörðustígur 4 and Kringlan shopping mall
The Ígló & Indí brand was established in 2008 and offers cool and comfortable children’s clothing that children love. The brand has a small shop located on Skólavörðustígur where one can buy cute, soft presents for the little ones.
Open: Monday – Saturday: 10 am – 6 pm
National Museum Boutique
National Museum, Suðurgata 41
The National Museum‘s shop boasts a great selection of wonderful craft and design pieces, books on the Icelandic language, art and culture as well as children‘s toys modelled after old, Icelandic toys.
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