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National Gallery of Iceland

For those who are passionate about paintings and other works of art, the National Gallery of Iceland has a wealth of valuable artworks on display, with various exhibitions by both foreign and Icelandic artists.

The main emphasis of the collection is on 19th and 20th century Icelandic art, but international art is also featured. The museum owns the most valuable collection of works by Icelandic artists in the country, including some works by internationally renowned artists. The National Gallery of Iceland regularly holds colourful exhibitions reflecting its collection. The National Gallery of Iceland also hosts exhibitions by individual artists, Icelandic as well as foreign ones. The National Gallery of Iceland houses several exhibition halls on three floors, a gift shop and a café.

The National Gallery of Iceland was founded in 1884 in Copenhagen, Denmark, by Björn Bjarnarson.  The Museum remained an independent institution from its inception in 1884 until 1916 when Alþingi – the Icelandic Parliament – decided to make it a department in the National Heritage Museum (Þjóðminjasafn Íslands). In 1928 a law was passed in Alþingi on the Council of Culture and under that law the National Gallery came under the supervision of said council.

The collection was on show at the Alþingishús – the House of Parliament, i.e. in the building itself – from 1885 until the year 1950 when it was transferred to the building of the Þjóðminjasafn Íslands at Sudurgata. There, the collection was formally opened to the public in 1951 and in 1961 a law was passed, making the Museum fully independent.

In 1987 the collection was moved yet again to a new and the present location at Fríkirkjuvegur 7. The main building was originally erected as a freezing plant in the year 1916, designed by the renowned Icelandic architect Guðjón Samúelsson. The later addition to the building is the work of architect Garðar Halldórsson.

Guided tours in sign language and interpretation are offered by arrangement. Every effort is made to accommodate individuals and groups with special needs. Access for disabled persons is excellent.

Note: The National Gallery is closed on Mondays during winter, or from the 1st of October until the 30th of April. 

Related attractions

Salurinn Concert Hall

Salurinn Concert Hall is the first specially designed concert hall in Iceland. It was opened in January 1999 and is renowned for its exceptional acoustics.

Gröndal’s House

Visit a charming writer-illustrator’s home in the heart of the old town and learn about the history of the city at the dawn of the 20th century.

The National Museum of Iceland

Whether your visit to Iceland is for business or pleasure, making time for a trip to the National Museum will leave you fully enlightened about the making of the Icelandic nation and its history.


Kópavogur thermal pool is one of the largest aquatic centres in Iceland. It has a 50m outdoor pool, two indoor pools, seven hot tubs, a steam bath and three water slides.