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Tjarnarbíó

Tjarnargata 12, Reykjavík 101, 527 2100

Opening Hours:
Mon - Sun: 8.00am - 4.00pm

Website: https://tjarnarbio.is/en/

Tjarnarbíó is just over a century old, built-in 1913. The auditorium was originally an “icehouse”, at the time, ship owners built it like a fish factory and used ice from the pond to keep the fish fresh for export. The backstage area of Tjarnarbíó was Reykjavík’s fire station. During WWII the University of Iceland took over the house and turned it into a cinema, hence the name Tjarnarbíó (“Pond Cinema”). For decades to come the house would be used as a cinema, as a lecture hall for the University, and as a theatre. When the University of Iceland stopped running the cinema shortly before 1960 the city of Reykjavík decided to use the building for children and youth art and culture-related activities.

The Reykjavík Theater Company flourished in the seventies. The choice of plays showed ambition and boldness, and new Icelandic writers finally had their voices heard. The theatre stepped out of the shadow of the National Theater and gave it a run for its money. Iðnó had been the theatre's home but was getting pretty cramped as their activity was expanding. In 1964 The Reykjavík Theatre moved part of their organization over to Tjarnarbær for the next few years. The building was mainly used for children’s theater and the company’s theater school. The school graduated a total of forty students, many of whom would perform with the company for years to come. After 1970, theater work in the building slowed down. The University of Iceland used it for teaching, and for a while, there were even speculations about tearing it down to build a new City Hall. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. The building would end up being used for all kinds of organizations and groups such as Fjalakötturinn theatre group, The High School Film Club, the art groups Svart og Sykurlaust (“black, not sugar”) and Oxsmá, The Student Theater, Herranótt the theater group in Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík, the amateur group Hugleikur and the traveling group Light Nights, which held exhibitions in English for foreign visitors. After this period of uncertainty, the house was in poor condition. Around 2005 things would change. Discussions between the city of Reykjavík and the Independent Theaters began. Focusing on making Tjarnarbíó the home of the independent performing arts. In the end, they decided to launch a total renovation of the building. Construction began in 2008 and ended in October 2010.

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