In 1909, Iceland’s first sculptor, Einar Jónsson, offered his works as a gift to the nation in exchange for a building to house them (and him). Fast forward five years when the government came to its senses and accepted the gift, and you’ve got the Listasafn Einars Jónssonar, a wicked building designed by the sculptor himself in collaboration with architect Guðjón Samúelsson.
The museum, and the penthouse apartment therein that Einar shared with his wife, are definitely worth checking out. Not only is the architecture of the building and the vibrant colours of the interior stunning to explore and appreciate, but the nearly 300 pieces of art created throughout the iconic sculptor’s life are surprising and impressive in their intricacy and, in some cases, their monumental scale.
The gem of the location, however, is the lush green garden to the rear of the house in which 26 bronze casts of the artist’s work are on display for the viewing pleasure of the general public. Walking through the gates on Freyjugata onto the manicured lawn is like entering a sanctuary of sorts. The imposing trees, with limbs spreading out to create a canopy over the central walking path of the space, transports visitors out of the generally tree-less Iceland and into the Jardin Luxembourg, sans all the homeless people lurking about.
Admission to the sculpture garden is absolutely free, so it is a popular spot for tranquil picnic lunches or just to lie on the grass in the shade to enjoy a good book. Don’t spend all your time with your nose in a book though, as the detail of Einar’s art is so stunning that you will surely want to get up close and examine it at length. The garden is open around the clock so if you ever find yourself with a hankering for a late-night sculpture fix you know where to go.
- The Einar Jónsson Museum Eiriksgata , 101 Reykjavik
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