The Einar Jonsson Museum and Sculpture Garden Travel Guide
The Einar Jonsson Museum and Sculpture Garden is dedicated to one of Iceland's most famous sculptors.
You can visit the Einar Jonsson Sculpture Garden on a two-hour cat-themed walking tour, as many local cats spend time here. Alternatively, you can see the museum as part of a self-drive tour of Iceland. Just visit the museum during your time in Reykjavik.
The museum, Listasafn Einars Jónssonar in Icelandic, is a fantastic destination for art lovers who want to learn more about Einar Jonsson and see some of his best works. It's where art, nature, and history unite to create a unique and inspiring experience for visitors. The museum also plays a vital role in preserving and promoting Icelandic art and culture, both past and present.
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Who Was Einar Jonsson?
Einar Jonsson is often called the first Icelandic sculptor. He lived from 1874 to 1954 and was the first Icelandic artist to gain international recognition.
His work can be seen in many cities worldwide, including New York, Copenhagen, and Oslo. However, most of his collection is displayed at Reykjavik's Einar Jonsson Museum and Sculpture Garden.
Jonsson studied sculpture in Copenhagen and Rome but returned to his home country of Iceland in 1909. The Icelandic Parliament agreed to build a home for him and his wife where he could continue to create art. In exchange, Jonsson donated his collection to Iceland after his death in 1954.
Why Visit the Einar Jonsson Museum?
Founded in 1916 and opened in 1923, the Einar Jonsson Museum is housed in Jonsson's former home. It has over 300 artworks, including sculptures, sketches, and paintings, most displayed in the permanent exhibition.
Besides the permanent collection, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year featuring the work of Icelandic and international artists and offering a glimpse into Iceland's vibrant contemporary art scene.
The museum building has an ornate façade with intricate carvings, making it worth visiting even if you don't know much about Icelandic sculpture. Inside are several gallery spaces, with sculptures and paintings on display.
Guests can gain a deeper understanding of Jonsson's life and work and learn about his significant contributions to Icelandic art and culture by visiting the museum.
The sculpture garden opened in 1984, later than the main museum building. This beautiful outdoor space provides a tranquil getaway in the city center. Trees, flowers, and ponds surround the bronze casts of Jonsson's sculptures. Visitors can walk through the garden to admire the sculptures and soak in the peaceful atmosphere.
Cats tend to hang around in the sculpture garden, so this is a great place to come if you miss your pet back home. You may even get a chance to pet one.
What Can I See at the Einar Jonsson Museum and Sculpture Garden?
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Most of Einar Jonsson's artworks are on display at this museum, making it an excellent place to discover the artist for the first time or see more of his works up close.
The museum is home to several of Jonsson's most famous sculptures, including Outlaws, on display in the main gallery room. Created in 1901, it depicts a man carrying his family while on the run. Visitors to the garden can also view a bronze cast of this statue.
Other famous pieces on display include Dawn, which shows a giant troll in the process of kidnapping a girl. This is based on an Icelandic legend about the Night Troll who attempts to abduct a farm girl on the night before Christmas.
The sculpture garden measures about 0.75 acres (3,000 square meters) and contains over 20 casts of Jonsson's works. You can see pieces including The Waves of Ages and Prayer.
As well as its extensive collection of Jonsson's work, the museum contains the apartment where Jonsson and his wife, Anna Jonsson (born Anna Jorgensen), lived together. The apartment offers a striking view of Reykjavik and still contains the original furniture that the Jonssons used and lived in.
How to Visit the Einar Jonsson Museum
The Einar Jonsson Museum is in the heart of Reykjavik, making it an excellent option for travelers staying in the Icelandic capital.
The museum is open all year from Tuesday to Sunday. Opening times can vary depending on the time of year but are usually from midday until 17:00.
Students and senior citizens can get discounted ticket rates if they show ID. Children and people with disabilities can visit the museum for free.
Other Attractions Near the Einar Jonsson Museum and Sculpture Garden
Thanks to the museum's fantastic location in downtown Reykjavik, several other sights in the area are worth visiting.
The Hallgrimskirkja church is the largest church in Reykjavik and one of the tallest buildings in Iceland. It was designed by Gudjon Samuelsson, an Icelandic architect living and working around the same time as Einar Jonsson (1887-1950).
The church's design represents elements of Icelandic nature, including basalt columns and glaciers. It's also said to resemble Thor's hammer but upside down.
The church is free to visit and is open daily. It's next to the Einar Jonsson Museum and Sculpture Garden, so many travelers visit both sights on the same day.
The Tjornin Pond in central Reykjavik is another attraction close to the Einar Jonsson Museum and Sculpture Garden. The pond is just a 10-minute walk from the museum.
It's a large body of water in the city center, home to a year-round population of ducks. They don't fly away because some of the pond is heated. Visitors to Reykjavik and locals come to feed the ducks and walk around the water's edge.