Reykjavík’s history reaches more than a thousand years back and the city has a rich cultural heritage. What better way is there to learn more about Icelandic culture than visiting the museums scattered throughout the city centre? Let us tell you all about these museums in this museum guide.

Museum Reykjavík

Reykjavík Museum of Photography

The Museum of Photography’s main objective is to present both historical and contemporary photography in an artistic, social and cultural context, as well as nurture public and scholarly interest in photography. The collection’s themes are diverse. You can find family photographs, photos from portrait studios, industrial and advertising photographs, press photography, landscape photographs, and more.

Best Museums to Visit in Downtown Reykjavík
Photo: www.reykjavik.com

Reykjavík Art Museum

The Reykjavík Art Museum is a combination of three museums: Hafnarhús, Kjarvalsstaðir and Ásmundarsafn. Hafnarhús is located downtown and serves as the museum’s institute of contemporary art, where new developments in art are explored through diverse exhibitions of Icelandic and international artists. An exhibition of paintings by well-known pop artist Erró is a permanent feature. Kjarvalsstaðir is devoted to one of Iceland’s most important painters, Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval, and Ásmundarsafn is the former home and workshop of sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson.

Best Museums to Visit in Downtown Reykjavík

The Settlement Exhibition

In 2001, archaeological remains of a hall from the age of settlement were excavated and The Settlement Exhibition is built around these findings. The hall was inhabited from 930-1000. North of the hall two pieces of a turf wall were found, which were built before 871. These findings are the oldest relics of human habitation found in Reykjavík. In the exhibition, construction of buildings from the age of settlement is explained, and computer technology is used to give an impression of what life was like in the hall. Objects from the age of settlement found in central Reykjavík and on Viðey island are also on display.

viking-history-at-the-settlement-exhibition-2

The National Museum of Iceland

The nation’s most precious treasures are kept and displayed at The National Museum of Iceland. The museum was established on February 24, 1863 and its aim is to increase and relay knowledge of Icelandic cultural heritage from the country’s settlement until now. In the museum, you will find a permanent exhibition of objects that provide insight into Icelandic history and culture as well as temporary exhibitions highlighting specific eras or aspects of Icelandic cultural heritage.

Best Museums to Visit in Downtown Reykjavík

The National Gallery of Iceland

The National Gallery was established in 1884. Its art collection consists mainly of 19th and 20th century art works. In its possession are many of the keystones of Icelandic art history, as well as a growing collection of works from other countries. The National Gallery’s main role is to collect, preserve, research and exhibit Icelandic art. There is also a considerable emphasis laid on showing Icelandic art in context with international art.

National Gallery of Iceland

The Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum was founded in 2004, and in 2008, former Coast Guard vessel Óðinn was added to the museum. The ship functions as a floating exhibit that can be visited during guided tours. The museum is located inside a former fish freezing plant and has two exhibitions to be enjoyed by the public. One is the permanent exhibition Fish & folk – 150 years of fisheries. This exhibition puts the spotlight on the importance of fishing for the Icelandic nation in past centuries. Milckmeyt 1659 is an exhibition about an underwater archaeological survey by Flatey Island. The exhibition will give a fascinating insight into trade in Iceland in the 17th century.

Maritime Museum Reykjavík
Photo: http://borgarsogusafn.is/en/reykjavik-maritime-museum

Culture House

The Culture House originally housed the National Library and National Archives of Iceland and was open to the public in 1909. It has always been considered one of Iceland’s most beautiful buildings. Now, it gives visitors the chance to search through the collections of six different cultural institutions. From thousand-year-old treasures to the latest in Icelandic art. A unique journey through Iceland’s visual legacy, offering an innovative guide to a nation’s cultural history.

Icelandic History from a New Point of View at the Culture House
The Culture House

Are you planning your visit?

Then check out the Reykjavík City Card, which includes entry to all of these museums, as well as to pools, the ferry to Viðey and bus fares for public buses within Reykjavík.

What's On locations in downtown Reykjavík

  • Laugavegur 5 (Main Office)
  • Laugavegur 54 (Trip)

Opening Hours:

  • Main office (Laugavegur 5) - open every day 8:30 - 22:00
    Laugavegur 54 - Mon-Fri 9:00-18:00, Sat 9:00-14:00

Contact What's On

The official source for safe adventure in Iceland is safetravel. It’s located in our Laugavegur 54 location.