A Cultural Guide to Reykjavik’s Art Scene

If you are keen to steer away from some of the more popular vacation destinations, you should consider heading north to Iceland for a truly unique inspiring experience. Embarking on a Europe tour to soak up fascinating culture and rich history should be at the top of every intrepid travelers’ bucket list.While exploring Iceland’s dramatic landscapes is a major draw for travelers, the country’s capital offers a wealth of cultural experiences that extend far beyond the natural world. Often overshadowed by its stunning surroundings, Reykjavik boasts a thriving art scene, where innovative contemporary works interweave with rich history of Icelandic art. In fact, Reykjavik’s art scene should not be missed.

This guide will navigate you through the city’s artistic landscape, highlighting key museums, galleries, and even outdoor experiences to immerse yourself in Reykjavik’s unique artistic expression.

A Journey Through Icelandic Art History

Begin your exploration at the National Gallery of Iceland, a must-visit for any art enthusiast. Here, delve into the evolution of Icelandic art, from the evocative 19th-century landscapes to the thought-provoking installations of contemporary artists who explore themes of identity and social justice.

Don’t miss a trip to the House of Collections, a beautiful building dating back to 1906 that once housed the National Library. Today, it showcases the National Gallery’s crown jewels of Icelandic art history, including works by pioneering artists like Ásmundur Sveinsson, known for his sculptures that draw inspiration from Norse mythology.

Reykjavik Art Museum

For a dose of cutting-edge art, head to the Reykjavik Art Museum, which operates three branches across the city. Each establishment offers a dynamic platform for emerging and established artists.

At Hafnarhús, housed in a historic harbor building, you might encounter a thought-provoking video installation or a site-specific sculpture.

Nestled in a beautiful garden setting, Kjarvalsstaðir often features exhibitions that showcase the works of Jóhannes S Kjarval, a prominent 20th-century Icelandic painter known for his vibrant landscapes.

Finally, Ásmundarsafn, the former studio of sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson, offers a intriguing glimpse into his creative process, with displays of his sculptures, drawings, and personal belongings.

Reykjavik’s Hidden Gems

Venture beyond established institutions and discover the soul of Reykjavik’s art scene in its independent galleries.

BERG Contemporary, located in the Grandi district, is a must-visit for those interested in experimental art. Here, you might find exhibitions that explore themes of technology, social commentary, or performance.

í8 Gallery showcases established and up-and-coming Icelandic artists. Their program features a variety of media, from painting and sculpture to photography and video art. Keep an eye out for their artist talks and opening receptions, which offer a chance to connect with the local art community.


Art Beyond Walls

Reykjavik isn’t just about museums and galleries. The city itself becomes a canvas for artistic expression.

Take a walk along the delightful Shore and Sculpture Walk, a 5km coastal path that stretches from the center of Reykjavik to Seltjarnarnes peninsula. Dotted along the path, you’ll find sculptures by Icelandic and international artists, each offering a unique perspective on the relationship between art and nature.

Immerse Yourself in Reykjavik’s Cultural Pulse

To truly immerse yourself in Reykjavik’s artistic energy, consider attending one of the city’s many cultural events. The annual Reykjavik Arts Festival held in September, is a highlight, showcasing a diverse range of performances, installations, and workshops across various artistic disciplines.

Throughout the year, you’ll also find a wide array of smaller-scale events like gallery openings, artist talks, and film screenings that take place regularly.

Malorie Mackey is an actress, published author, and adventurer. Malorie grew up in Richmond, Virginia where she loved sports, the outdoors, animals, and all forms of art. She took to acting at a young age, so it was no surprise when she decided to go to college for theatre. While in college, Malorie studied body movement with the DAH Theatre in Belgrade, Serbia, voice in Herefordshire, England with Frankie Armstrong, and the business of theatre in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Malorie moved from the East Coast to Los Angeles after receiving her BFA in Theatre Performance from Virginia Commonwealth University. Upon arriving in LA, Malorie participated in the Miss California USA 2011 Pageant where she won the “Friend’s Choice” Award (by popular vote) and received a beautiful award for it.

While living on the West Coast, Malorie accumulated over 40 acting credits working on a variety of television shows, web series, and indie films, such as the sci-fi movie “Dracano,” the Biography Channel show “My Haunted House,” the tv pilot “Model Citizen” with Angie Everhart, and the award-winning indie film “Amelia 2.0.”

Throughout her experiences, Malorie found a love for travel and adventure, having journeyed to over a dozen countries experiencing unique locations. From the lush jungles of the Sierra Madre mountain range to the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, Malorie began adventuring and writing about her unique travels. These travel excerpts can be found on VIVA GLAM Magazine, in Malorie’s Adventure Blog, in Malorie’s adventure show: “Weird World Adventures” and in the works for her full-length travel book.

In 2022, Malorie was thrilled to become a member of the Explorer’s Club through her work on scientific travel. Her experiences volunteering on archaeological and anthropological expeditions as well as with animal conservation allowed her entry into the exclusive club. Since then, Malorie has focused more on scientific travel.

Malorie’s show “Weird World Adventures” releases on Amazon Prime Video in the Spring of 2024! Stay tuned as Malorie brings the strangest wonders of the world to you!

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