Höfuðstöðin opens in Elliðaárdalur

Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, Shoplifter, chromo

After many months, team effort, a pandemic, a successful kickstarter campaign and more, the fully female-led self-funded project Höfuðstöðin by Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir and Lilja Baldurs is open to the public, and we could not be more excited.

Höfuðstöðin is an art and culture destination that permanently houses Shoplifter / Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir’s monumental large scale installation Chromo Sapiens. Shoplifter is one of Iceland’s leading contemporary artists and the installation was debuted for the Icelandic Pavilion in 2019 at the Venice Biennale, to worldwide critical acclaim. The installation enjoys enormous popularity and appeals to a wide range of audience from art enthusiasts to people of all ages, and will welcome anyone who seeks to experience Icelandic culture. Shoplifter is the first Icelandic woman to open a center for her artwork in Iceland and invite the public to experience her work permanently.


The building where Höfuðstöðin is located consists of historical barrack structures built during the second world war, then relocated and used as a potato nursery in Reykjavik before being now renovated into an art and culture centre with the help of architect Iwo Borkowicz. The space features the installation Chromo Sapiens and a multi purpose space with a cafe, lounge and gift shop. A beautiful outdoor seating area overlooks Elliðaárdalur valley. The space will host various events such as workshops, concerts and lectures to name a few, so keep an eye out for their upcoming events. For now, Höfuðstöðin is an oasis where you can enjoy culture and a coffee surrounded by nature. It is a place to meet up in before or after an outing in the labyrinth of paths through the forest and riverbanks of the valley of Elliðaárdalur.

A goal of the project was to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Many of the materials are locally sourced, and the furniture for the main lounge area is created by Plastplan, an Icelandic design and plastic recycling company which creates beautiful melted and marbled plastic sheets from locally recycled plastic and turns them into unique designs. This falls in line with Shoplifter’s signature medium, synthetic hair extensions, which are continuously reused over and over again in her installations and artwork, turning a material that is often carelessly disposed of into something of value and permanence.


Shoplifter is one of Iceland’s leading contemporary artists. She represented Iceland at the Venice Biennale in 2019 with her installation Chromo Sapiens which received worldwide attention and press. Chromo Sapiens later travelled to Iceland opening at the Reykjavik Art Museum in January 2020. Shoplifter has exhibited in notable museums and galleries worldwide including MoMA, Museum of Modern Art in New York, Kulturhuset Stadsteatern in Stockholm, The SCAD Museum in Savannah, Kiasma the National Gallery of Finland, the National Gallery of Iceland, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art in Australia, amongst others. She is a recipient of The Nordic Award in Textiles and The Prince Eugen Medal for artistic achievement from the King and Royal Crown of Sweden.


Höfuðstöðin is located at Rafstöðvarvegur 1a, just on the outskirts of Reykjavík, and opens weekdays from 10 – 18 and weekends from 11 – 17. Don’t miss it!

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