From mire to metal
  • The Corner - National Museum of Iceland

In the past, iron smelting from bog iron was performed in Iceland. The use of metallurgical furnaces called bloomeries were used to smelt iron throughout the Middle Ages. Thereafter the practice steadily declined until it was completely abandoned in the 17th or 18th century. The knowledge of this ancient craftmanship has since been forgotten to time, leaving numerous questions about the bloomery process unanswered.

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Rúnar Gunnarsson ljósmyndasýning

An eternity in a moment
  • 11.4.2023 - 2.9.2023 National Museum of Iceland.

Photography exhibition by Rúnar Gunnarsson.

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Stúlkur við Botnsvatn eftir Ragnheiði Bjarnadóttur

Light and play
  • 11.4.2023 - 2.9.2023 National Museum of Iceland.

A personal collection that depicts an individual‘s journey from childhood to adulthood and sheds light upon the multi-layered meaning of photography.

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Barnamenningarhátíð í Þjóðminjasafninu

Children's Culture Festival: Self-Expression on Sexual Health

The Reykjavík Children's Culture Festival, 18.-23. April 2023.

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Sýning á Barnamenningarhátíð 2023

Children's Culture Festival: The four Old Guardian Spirits of Iceland and other Creatures

The Reykjavík Children's Culture Festival, 18.-23. april 2023.

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My Favourite Things: Weary casket, silver spoon and knickers (with a hole)

The exhibition juxtaposes information gathered from probate inventories preserved at the National Archives and the artifact collections of the National Museum in order to dive into the material world of people in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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Með verkum handanna

Creative Hands. Icelandic laid-and-couched embroideries of past centuries.
  • 4. nóv 2023 - 5. maí 2024 Bogasalur

 Treasures of Icelandic art from past centuries. 

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Polish roots and daily life in Iceland
  • March 16th 2024 - May 20th 2024

The National Museum of Iceland collects narratives from Polish citizens in Iceland. The exhibition presents a fraction of the answers and photographs that the National Museum has already received.

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Þjóðminjasafn Íslands

If Garden Gnomes Could Talk
  • 16. 9.2023 - 24.1.2024 The Photo Gallery

Photography exhibition by Þórdís Erla Ágústsdóttir and Sigríður Marrow of the unique trailer settlement in Laugarvatn.

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The Summer Resort Laugarvatn
  • 16. 9.2023 - 24.1.2024

Exhibition featuring photographs from the summer resort Laugarvatn.

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In the eleventh hour
  • 17.9.2022 - 26.2.2023 The Photo Gallery - National Museum of Iceland

In the 1970s, only a few of Iceland’s turf houses were still inhabited. Having served as the primary form of housing for more than a thousand years, the Icelandic turf farm had now played out its role, and with no comprehensive preservation plan in sight, the remaining farms faced extinction.

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Ljósmynd: Sviðsett nálgun Kirstine Lund á portrettljósmyndun sést með skýrum hætti hér á mynd hennar af Petru dóttur sinni og vinkonu hennar, um 1900. Ljósmynd: Skjalasafn, Sögusafnið í Vendsyssel.

In the shadow
  • 21.5.2022 - 4.9.2022 The Photo Gallery - National Museum of Iceland

Women pioneers of photography are spotlighted in an exhibition that opens on 21 May in the Photography Hall at the National Museum of Iceland. The exhibition In the shadow gives prominence to ten women photographers in Denmark, Iceland and on the Faroe Islands of the later 19th century.

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Ljósmynd: Sjálfsmynd af Nicoline Weywadt

Nicoline Weywadt
  • 21.5.2022 - 4.9.2022 The Wall - National Museum of Iceland

In connection to the touring exhibition In the shadow, a special exhibition on the first Icelandic female photographer, Nicoline Weywadt, will be launched at the Wall on the ground floor of the National Museum of Iceland. On display are a few of her photographs as well as a blueprint of her photographic studio that she built at the farm of Teigarhorn in East-Iceland.

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Roses grew on snow
  • 22.1.2022 - 8.5.2022 The Wall - National Museum of Iceland

Roses grew on snow is an exhibition of Vassilis Triantis' photographs. The exhibition contains photographs by Triantis himself and photos from the family album of his parents in law, Ásta and Gústi, who for a long time grew roses in the village Laugarás in South Iceland. The exhibition is an homage to the life and work of the couple and reflects on memories of roses that grew in the snow.

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  • 22.1.2022 - 8.5.2022 The Photo Gallery - National Museum of Iceland

Straumnesfjall mountain rises between Aðalvík to the south and Rekavík to the north, now within Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the Westfjords. During the cold war the US army erected a radar station on the mountain, which it operated for only three years, between 1958 and 1961. In 1991 the mountain and its surroundings were cleared of the ruins in a cooperation between the US army and Icelandic authorities. Nonetheless, clear traces of this operation are still visible on the mountain. 

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The Portrait Collection

The Portrait Collection is a part of the Photographic Collection of the National Museum. It contains different types of portraits, including paintings, photographs, needlework, and sculptures. The Portrait collection has a large and diverse range, from snapshots to invaluable pieces of art. The one common denominator is that they all depict people. 

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Spessi 1990-2020
  • 27.3.2021 - 12.9.2021 The Photo Gallery - National Museum of Iceland

The contemporary photographer Spessi – Sigurþór Hallbjörnsson – has forged a unique style within the field of fine-art photography. His work presents cold hard reality, unvarnished and uncensored, whether the subject is a person or a setting. Hidden pockets of society are prominent in his work, interspersed with cultural life. His choice and handling of material is provocative, yet also imbued with humanity and humour. 

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Back Yards
  • 27.3.2021 - 12.9.2021 The Wall - National Museum of Iceland

Back yards, sheds, clothes-lines, and now and then a cat. Photographer Kristján Magnússon trains his lens exclusively on a narrow, enclosed swath of the urban environment: the back-lots of residential areas in the older parts of Reykjavik. He captures images of almost-deserted spaces that seem well thought-out despite the cluttered surroundings. This photo series strongly conveys the stylistic traits of this veteran ad photographer.

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Saga of Hofstaðir, Unearthing the Past in North Iceland
  • 22.02.2020 - 2.10.2022 The Arc Hall - National Museum of Iceland

At Hofstaðir in the district of Lake Mývatn, north Iceland, extensive archaeological excavations have been carried out over the past three decades. The site includes remains from the Viking Age to the 20th century. A huge Viking-Age structure was excavated: a hall or longhouse where people gathered on social occasions, with other smaller buildings around it. The hall is one of the largest structures ever excavated in Iceland. In addition, a churchyard was excavated at Hofstaðir, which is one of the oldest churchyards unearthed in Iceland. Whole families were laid to rest in the cemetery, and their bones yield evidence about their lives. The face of one of the women buried at Hofstaðir has been reconstructed using DNA technology, and a drawing of her is included in the exhibition.

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Börn skoða ríkisfánann á forsetabílnum með Vigdísi í ferð hennar um Húnavatnssýslu árið 1988. Ljósmyndari: Gunnar Geir Vigfússon.

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. President for a New Era
  • The National Museum of Iceland

A page was turned in world history when Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was elected to the presidency of Iceland in 1980 – the first woman in the world to be democratically elected as a head of state. 

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Drawing for the Nation
  • 12.9.2020 - 14.3.2021 The Photo Gallery - National Museum of Iceland

Artist Halldór Pétursson (1916-1977) drew his way into the heart of the Icelandic nation in a unique way. During his heyday, which lasted many decades, his works were omnipresent in Icelandic society.

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Music, Dance and Fashion
  • 12.9.2020 - 14.3.2021 The Wall - National Museum of Iceland

The ambiance of the cultural scene in Iceland is powerfully portrayed in a selection of images by photographer Vigfús Sigurgeirsson (1900 - 1984), taken during World War II. Subjects include dancing girls and musicians, as well as remarkable photos of a fashion show at Hotel Borg. Glamour and sophistication are everywhere.

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Discovering Iceland's Monasteries
  • 26.5.2018- 10.4.2022 The Corner - National Museum of Iceland Suðurgata 41

The exhibition is based on research done by Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir, professor of archaeology at the University of Iceland and the National Museum of Iceland

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Points of View
  • The Culture House - Hverfisgata 15

At the Culture House, the exhibition Points of View – a journey through the visual world of Iceland is on permanent view. The exhibition gives visitors a unique opportunity to view the collections of six major Icelandic cultural institutions. Artworks of various styles and mediums are presented thematically alongside museum objects and archival materials such as books and maps. 

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Looking North
  • 18.01.2020 - 30.08.2020 The Wall - National Museum of Iceland

Jessica Auer sets out to explore Iceland's sightseeing destinations, and records tourists' surroundings through her photographic lens. In her pictures, travellers and their material world blend together with the natural surroundings. Tourism is manifested as a transformative force within the Icelandic landscape, and is depicted with visual clarity. Jessica Auer stands apart from her subject, observing from afar like a visitor in an unfamiliar world. Altered landscapes have been addressed through contemporary photography for quite some time, and here, the tourism sector plays a significant role.

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In the Light
  • 18.01.2020 - 30.08.2020 The Photo Gallery - National Museum of Iceland

Gunnar Pétursson, an amateur photographer from Reykjavík, had a long and remarkable career. Whether he photographed nature, the city or its people, all his work was characterised by his subjective view of his surroundings. He saw surfaces, shapes and textures, and strove to capture light and motion in his pictures. He was an active participant in the wave of amateur photography in Iceland in the years after World War II, when new perspectives and trends arrived, and photographic art came into being.

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The Book of Lies

The Book of Lies is the name of a journal left by Pike Ward - an English fish merchant proclaimed as ‘The Best Known Man in Iceland' in the early twentieth century, but largely forgotten soon after.

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Churches of Iceland: Ornamenta et instrumenta. Developments and trends

After nearly two decades of work in research and publishing of the book series Kirkjur Íslands (Churches of Iceland), the National Museum holds the exhibition Skrúði og áhöld. Straumar og stefnur (Ornamenta et instrumenta. Developments and trends). The research involved in the preparation of the Churches of Iceland series has given rise to a new and remarkable perspective on ecclesiastical objects and vestments in Iceland's listed historical churches.

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Artists' Books

In this exhibition we are introduced to examples of Icelandic artists' books from the collection of the National and University Library of Iceland. Examples of printmaking dating all the way back to the latter part of the 19th century to modern day book art.

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The Colic Leaf

In the manuscripts collection at the National and University Library of Iceland, you may find a 400 year old vellum, dark and obscure with age, with the shelfmark Lbs fragm. 14. This vellum is now exhibited at the Culture House.

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Ganymede by Bertel Thorvaldsen
  • The Culture House - 13.6.2019 - 22.4.2021

The sculpture Ganymede is by the Icelandic/Danish artist Bertel Torvaldsen (1770-1844) and is from the collection of the National Gallery. Thorvaldsen made the original in Rome in 1804, which makes this marble sculpture among the oldest works in the National Gallery's collection. It is on view in the Treasure space at the Culture House.

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Pike Ward's Iceland Photographs, objects and cuttings from the collection of an English fish merchant

Pike Ward (1856–1937) was an Englishman who became a well-known figure in Iceland around 1900. He first came to Iceland in 1893, and until 1915 he spent part of each year here, purchasing fish. Pike Ward operated one of the first trawlers in Icelandic waters and promoted utilisation of smaller fish from the catch – which came to be known as „vorðfiskur“ or “Ward's fish.” Ward paid the fishermen who supplied him in cash, previously unheard of in the fish business in Iceland.

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The Book of Lies

The Book of Lies is the name of a journal left by Pike Ward - an English fish merchant proclaimed as ‘The Best Known Man in Iceland’ in the early twentieth century, but largely forgotten soon after.

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Myth of a Woman

Agnieszka Sosnowska immigrated to Iceland 13 years ago. With her photographs she has documented a path in life she never planned or expected. She photographs herself, her students, new family members and friends. Her inspiration is the strength of the female spirit she has found in Iceland.  

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Life, as it is lived, before the transformation

In Árneshreppur farmers live in harmony with their animals and nature. Yrsa Roca Fannberg has captured daily life in the smallest parish of Iceland just before a transformation that seems to be around the corner.  

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Churches of Iceland: as seen by museum directors and a bishop

During the 20th century, Iceland‘s churches and ecclesiastical objects were studied by three people, each of whom kept records in pictorial form. A selection of pictures by the three researchers provides an insight into Icelandic church buildings and the cultural heritage manifested in them.

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Photographs by Heiða Helgadóttir on contemporary religious practice. 

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The Long Apartment Block in Upper Breiðholt
  • The Photo Gallery - 2018

The building measures 320 metres, bearing a resemblance to a great wall. With its twenty staircases and 200 apartments, it is home to a few hundred people. David Barreiro has photographed the building, the interiors of the apartments, and its inhabitants who share the experience of moving to Iceland from across the world.

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Inga Lisa

Thoughts of Home - Inga Lísa Middleton
  • The Wall - 2017

The title of the exhibition Thoughts of home refers to the subject of the photographs and their dreamlike hue. The photographer Inga Lísa Middleton lives in the United Kingdom and exhibits at the Wall of the Photographic Gallery photographs from her home country Iceland. The photographs are printed using a method called Cyanotype, giving them their characteristic blue tint. 

  • The Wall - 2017

Ísland í heiminum

Iceland in the World, the World in Iceland
  • The Arc Hall - 2016 - 2017

Iceland, in both past and present, has been characterised by transnationalism – just like other countries in the world. Iceland has thus been a part of the mobility of people and ideas through the centuries. It is important to highlight this in the present, when current discourse is often based on the idea that in the past different parts of the world existed in isolation from each other. Prejudices are nothing new in Icelandic society, as for centuries Icelanders' ideas have been influenced by global conceptions of race.

In November 2016 the exhibition Iceland in the world, the world in Iceland was opened in the Arc Hall of the National Museum. The exhibition is based on research by anthropologists Kristín Loftsdóttir and Unnur Dís Skaptadóttir and their students at the University of Iceland. The exhibition shows that Iceland, in both past and present, has been characterized by transnationalism – just like other countries in the world. Iceland has thus been the platform for people's mobility and ideas over centuries.


Fishing Stations of Old Iceland
  • The Wall - 2018

Karl Jeppesen has photographed old fishing stations and camps around Iceland. On The Wall a selection of these photographs is exhibited. The abandoned fishing stations are in varying conditions. Some are clearly visible, but others have disappeared from the face of the earth. 

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Splendid saddlery
  • The Arc Hall - 2018

Horsemen and -women took pride in high-quality and ornamental riding equipment. A beautifully-decorated saddle was a valuable possession. In past centuries women generally rode in a side-saddle with both legs on one side of the horse or "aside", while men rode "astride".

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Family Photos with a Difference
  • The Photo Gallery - 2018

Nanna Bisp Büchert has made a name for herself in Danish photography. Some of her work references Iceland, but none so powerfully as Family Photos with a Difference.

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Who’s in the Picture?
  • The Photo Gallery - 2018

In the early days, photography was largely the preserve of professionals. One of the many portrait photographers in Reykjavík in the first half of the 20th century was Alfreð D. Jónsson, who ran a studio from 1931 to 1935 at Klapparstígur 37, and then at Laugavegur 23 from 1935 to 1952.

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Bundled-up in Blue
  • The Corner - 2015 - 2018

An exhibition based on new research on the bones and grave good found in a settlement-era grave.

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  • The Photo Gallery - 2018

Photography: Iben West and Else Ploug Isaksen

Words: Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir, Kristín Ómarsdóttir, Hallgrímur Helgason and Einar Már Guðmundsson 

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A Woman's Place...
  • The Arc Hall - 2015 - 2016

The exhibition A Woman's Place... examines the working lives of Icelandic women from 1915 to 2015.

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Birds, Fjord and Iceland Photographs by Björn Björnsson
  • The Photo Gallery - 2017

Björn Björnsson (1889-1977) was a self-taught photographer who worked as such in Iceland's Eastfjords alongside his work as a retailer in Norðfjörður mainly, but also in Seyðisfjörður and Djúpivogur. In later years, Björn specialised in nature photography and travelled the country for this purpose. His photographs of birds were published in newspapers and magazines, such as British Birds. An exhibition of Björn Björnsson's photographs will be on view in the Photo Gallery of the National Museum of Iceland 3.6.-17.9.2017. 

Síra Arnór Árnason

Kaldal's Portraits and Kaldal, Time and Space
  • The Photo Gallery - 2016 - 2017

This year marks 120 years since birth of photographer Jón Kaldal (1896-1981). On this occasion, two exhibitions on his works will open at the National Museum of Iceland. 

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Steinholt – a Story of the Origin of Names
  • The Photo Gallery - 2017

The exhibition Steinholt – a Story of the Origin of Names is about the memory of a place. Christopher Taylor has spent time in Þórshöfn, North-East Iceland, and travelled the area to capture the landscape and tell stories of memories connected with Steinholt. 

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