THE COLLECTION


The National Gallery of Iceland houses the principal collection of Icelandic visual art and its collection mainly includes 19
th and 20th century art, Icelandic and international. The collection includes most key works of 20th century Icelandic art-history, works by the country's leading artists. The Museum collection is constantly growing and new works by young artists as well as works by earlier artists are steadily added to enhance and improve the collection.

The foundation of the National Gallery's collection is a gift by Björn Bjarnarson (1853–1918), lawyer and later district-commissioner, collected and presented to the Museum at its foundation in 1884. His gift includes works by many of Denmark's most renowned painters, for example by Joakim Skovgaard, Christian Blache and Peter Krøyer. It also includes works by Norwegian and Swedish painters. The founding donation also includes presents to the Museum in the first years after its establishment, such as paintings, two sculptures as well as graphic works, all by foreign artists.

Consequently, in the early 20th century, the Museum started acquiring its first Icelandic works. Not many Icelandic artists were active in those years, but their number was increasing. The first Icelandic work the museum acquired was the work Outlaws (Útlagar) by sculptor Einar Jónsson, obtained in 1902. The next work acquired was Repose (Áning) by painter Þórarinn B. Þorláksson, obtained in 1911.

The collection of the National Gallery of Iceland includes many generous donations by Icelandic artists, including a donation by Finnur Jónsson and Guðný Elísdóttir, the bequests of Gunnlaugur Scheving and Guðmundur Benediktsson and that of Guðmunda Andrésdóttir, which the museum received in 2003. The National Gallery has also received generous gifts from individuals and the National Gallery highly appreciates the goodwill it has received over the years.

Access to an electronic database with photographs and information on all works, by Icelandic and foreign artists in the National Gallery's collection, is at the research-library, Laufásvegur 12.


  • The collection now contains over 11,000 works.
  • Of these, more than 2,000 belong to the Ásgrímur Jónsson Collection and over 400 to the Sigurjón Ólafsson Museum.
  • The collection includes 1,100 foreign works by 400 artists.
  • More than 370 Icelandic artists have artwork in the Museum collection.
  • The collection contains almost 5000 drawings, of which more than 4500 are by Icelandic artists.
  • It includes more than 3,800 works classified as paintings. Of these over 3,400 are by Icelandic artists, with more than 1850 oil paintings and 1,100 watercolours.
  • About 850 graphic works, nearly 300 by Icelandic artists.
  • Nearly 600 sculptures, more than 500 by Icelandic artists.
  • The collection contains about 200 artist books by national and international artists.
  • More than 100 photographic works, most by Icelandic artists.
  • Nearly 200 works classified as new media.
  • Nearly 50 montages, all except one by Icelanders.  
  • More than 30 textile works, all by Icelandic artists.