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Friday, July 29 update: Reykjavik Art Museums, National Gallery of Iceland, Volcano Show, Hljómskálagarður park

Today was a day to hit some lesser-known museums in Reykjavik. In particular, these are museums that you might have free admission to, if you bought tickets to other more popular museums.

First, the final museum in the Reykjavik Art Museum. For 1500 krona for adults (and free for kids!), you get admission to 3 museums, as long as you go on the same day. The most well-known of these by far is the one in the downtown harbor area, Hafnarhús:

art museum bridge

Here is our visit to Hafnarhús. This is a traditionaal art museum, and we didn’t find the current exhibits all that exiciting, though your tastes may differ!

The second one we visited was Ásmundarsafn, the Ásmundur Sveinsson sculpture museum.

asmundur outside

We liked Ásmundarsafn a lot more. The kids could climb on some of the sculptures outside, and the exhibit inside was memorable.

Today we went to the third museum, Kjarvalsstaðir, dedicated to the works of Jóhannes S. Kjarval. In fact, in the permanent galleries, every single painting or drawing is done by Kjarval.

Kjarval outside building

We liked this one too, though you may or may not find yourself spending a lot of time in the two galleries. Many of the paintings were approachable, and everyone should find something they like, or at least are intrigued by.

kjarval cool paintings

kjarval first room

This isn’t art (well, maybe it is?) but I liked this quote too:

kjarval fun quote

You could consider visiting the last 2 of the 3 Reykjavik Art Museums, Ásmundursafn and Kjarvalsstaðir. They are a 5 minute drive from each other (and Ásmundursafn is 2 minutes from the Reykjavik zoo and Family Park.) And both offer nice areas outside for the kids to enjoy; Ásmundursafn lets them climb on some sculptures, and Kjarvalsstaðir is located in Klambratún park:

kjarval Klambratún park

You’ll have to watch out for the disc golf course, but there’s plenty of room for the kids to run around, while the parents can sit outside with some food from the café. I was pleased with my tomato soup, which had some curry spices, rice, and black sesame seeds. Different, and very good.


We were less impressed with the other 2 museums that are related to the National Gallery of Iceland. (See our visit to the National Gallery of Iceland here.)

The deal here, is better, though, at least on the surface. Pay your 1500 krona (again, only for adults– kids are free) and you’ll get a ticket that will get you into the two other “associated collections” any time in the future. It doesn’t need to be on the same day.

But good luck visiting the Ásgrímur Jónsson Collection, even with your ticket. We found it, in the middle of a residential street:

asgrims closed

But the summer hours are: Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 2-5. We showed up on a Friday at 2, and were out of luck. And since it’s only open 9 hours a week (and 3 hours a week if it’s not summer) we’re going to have to skip this one.

The third museum is the Sigurjón Ólafsson Museum; it’s also only open from 2-5 PM, but at least it opens 6 days a week; every day except for Monday.

sigurjon outside

This is a museum featuring the sculptures of drawings of Sigurjón Ólafsson. There is no permanent exhibit, except perhaps the sculptures outside. The current exhibit is called “Female Idols.”

sigurjon female idols

If you already have a ticket, this is worth a visit; again, the area around the museum is part of the draw. The museum is right on the water, a mile or so east of the downtown harbor area. It’s right on the shore walk that connects to downtown:

sigurjon laugarnes seashore walk

But otherwise, we’re not sure the National Gallery or these associated museums are worthwhile for families, at least those without a specific interest in art.


After our fill of art museums, we headed to an attraction that we went to during our first visit to Iceland, the Volcano Show. If you Google Volcano Show Iceland, you’ll get Volcano House, which is different. Here we’re talking about the Volcano Show at Red Rock Cinema. There’s a red rock outside, which apparently I didn’t get a picture of. But this is in a gentlemen’s house:

volcano show outside building

The gentleman is named Villi Knudsen. He, like his father before him, spend their lives, or at least their free time, filming volcanoes. I get the sense that there is a network of people in Iceland who monitor volcanoes. And if one starts to erupt, they all know to call Villi.

Villi is a character. There is a movie theater in his house, and you can choose to watch the 1 hour movie, and then opt to stay for the second hour if you want.

volcano show movie screen

The theater is warm, and the movie is more reminiscent of a travel journal, with Villi telling you about all of the things he had to do in order to get the shot. It’s an hour that may not keep your child’s attention.

The show runs in English at 11 AM, 3PM, and 8 PM:

volcano show times

If you or your child are very into volcanoes, you should go to chat with Villi. Maybe buy a DVD instead of seeing the movie? In my opinion, Villi is the major attraction at Red Rocks Cinema.

A few minutes walk from The Volcano Show, down the hill, is Hljómskálagarður park, which is really just an extension of Tjörnin pond. As you probably don’t recall, we visited Hljómskálagarður briefly, but we didn’t make it to the sculptures or the playground. Today we did. The sculptures are new, from 2014, and they recognize female sculptors in Iceland:

female sculptors park

Very close by, you’ll find the playground:

climbling structure trampoline park

In the back, you have a rope climbing structure, which I’ve made seem smaller than it really is. In the front, you can see a piece of a trampoline built into the ground. There are 2 of them, and they are a lot of fun.

There is also a play area for smaller children:climbling structure smaller park

This is a nice reason to extend your walk around Tjörnin further south, past the bridge, to see this corner of Hljómskálagarður park.


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Friday, July 29 update: Reykjavik Art Museums, National Gallery of Iceland, Volcano Show, Hljómskálagarður park was last modified: August 2nd, 2016 by Eric