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National Gallery of Iceland

The National Gallery of Iceland (NG) is an art museum in Reykjavík and contains a collection of Icelandic art. The gallery features artwork of famous Icelandic artists and artwork that helps explain the traditional Icelandic culture.


The National Gallery of Iceland was founded in 1884 in Copenhagen, Denmark, by Björn Bjarnarson. The collection consisted of donated artwork, mainly by Danish artists.

Time as independent institution

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 the council.

The collection was on show at the Alþingishús (the House of Parliament) from 1885 until 1950 when it was transferred to the building of the National Museum of Iceland at Suðurgata. 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 again to Fríkirkjuvegur 7. The main building was erected as a freezing plant in 1916, designed by Icelandic architect Guðjón Samúelsson. A later addition to the building is the work of architect Garðar Halldórsson.

National Gallery of Iceland


National Gallery of Iceland holds rotating exhibitions that reflect its collection or display work by individual artists, Icelandic as well as foreign ones. A variety of pieces from the National Gallery's collection are displayed in the first phase of the exhibition Millenium at The Culture House.

The NG's buildings at Fríkirkjuvegur 7 houses several exhibition halls on three floors, an art store, and a café.

The NG's offices are situated on Laufásvegur 12, adjacent to the exhibition halls. In the same building a restoration laboratory is to be found and a specialist library, containing archives, documentation, and photographs.

The NG's library is a research library that emphasizes the preservation and the dissemination of material that relates to the research field of the institution, i.e. Icelandic art.

National Gallery of Iceland