The long-awaited, but very short, summer in Iceland not only brings with it 24 hours of sunlight but also an abundance of visual art exhibitions at various sites around the island. The ring road circles Iceland and connects most towns and villages. It is a splendid path to utilize and navigate various exhibition spaces and outdoor artwork.
In Breiðafjörður, there are two sites of interest. In Stykkishólmur, renowned for its historical houses, the Library of Water is a permanent installation by Roni Horn opened in 2007 and is an essential stop. The library is open daily from 11 am-5 pm from June-August.
Around 140 km off-road number 590, Nýp project space opened in 2020. The installation ‘Sandpiper’, by artist Sindri Leifsson, is the fourth summer exhibition presented in Nýp. To visit the space we advised you to contact them beforehand via email@example.com
By taking the south coast of the Westfjord, route 60, the next site is Ísafjörður. It is the largest town in the West and is best known for its rich music culture. The Ísafjörður Art Museum is in the Culture House Eyrartún, a three-story timber house in a former hospital. On display are works by painter Guðbjörg Lind Jónsdóttir, entitled ‘Coffee for Seafarers’, ongoing until August 13. In Outvert Art Space, also in Ísafjörður, French artist, Romain Causel opens a solo exhibition in July.
From journey from Ísafjörður to Djúpavík, is around 270 km on Road 61. In the past few summers, the old herring factory has been transformed into a venue for contemporary art exhibitions. This summer’s edition is ‘Enchanting Portals‘ and is open daily from 10 am-6 pm, until mid-September.
The north coast has plentiful sites to visit and view contemporary art. In Siglufjörður, sailing fjord, off route 76 Alþýðuhúsið hosts the Kompan Gallery. Among other things, the art festival Frjó will take place mid-summer. The artist-run initiative was recently awarded for outstanding cultural achievement in the countryside.
Next up is Verksmiðjan á Hjalteyri located 20 minutes from Akureyri. The venue was established in 2008 in a former herring factory. In mid-May, Iceland’s representative at the Venice Biennale 2022, Sigurður Guðjónsson, opened a large-scale installation titled ‘Conductive Path‘. The last exhibition day is July 16.
The largest town in Iceland is Akureyri, known for its rich cultural life and weather bliss. Among sites of interest is the newly renovated Akureyri Art Museum has a powerful exhibition program with 11 exhibitions over the summer, including Ragnar Kjartansson’s ‘The Visitors’, ‘Eclipse’ by Ásmundur Ásmundsson, ‘Anniversary’ presenting selected work by North Icelandic artists and an outdoor installation by Steinunn Gunnlaugsdóttir ‘blood & honour’.
In the same street, Listagil, artists run Kaktus is worth a sneak peek. By the harbor Hof Culture Center has sculptures by Aðalheiður S. Eysteinsdóttir on display and in Flóra Culture House up on the hill, you can view works by artists Guðný Rósa Ingimarsdóttir daily from 9 am-3 pm.
When continuing East, in the same fjord as Akureyri, the must-see Icelandic Folk and Outsider Art Museum has a variety of smaller exhibitions on display. The museum welcomes guests from 10 am-5 pm, daily until September 10.
When heading East from the North you will find Sláturhúsið Art Center in Egilstaðir. The center has on display until August 12th the group exhibition ‘Remember the Future’ with Ingrid Lassen, Solveig Ovanger & Inger Blix Kvammen. The art center is open Tue-Fri: 11 am – 4 pm and weekends 1 pm – 4 pm.
In the picturesque town of Seyðisfjörður, just a mountain pass over from Egilstaðir, you will find Skaftfell Art Center, established in 1998. In the gallery, the ‘Arctic Creatures Revisited’ exhibition is presented over the summer, until August 20, with work by artist Hrafnkell Sigurdsson, filmmaker and director Óskar Jónasson, and actor/theatre director Stefán Jónsson.
Another highlight of Seyðisfjörður is the local art festival LungA which will take place between July 10 – 16. The festival has a mixed roaster of emerging and international artists participating. To name a few; Pussy Riot is performing their show ‘Riot Days‘ three times during the festival and artists Ada M. Patterson, Ásgerður Birna Björnsdóttir grantee of the Icelandic Art Prize Motivational Award and local Ra Tack will be exhibiting.
Only two hours away is Djúpivogur, and a perfect stopover. ARS LONGA‘s annual exhibition opens on the 8th of July. ARS LONGA is a newly established international art museum focusing on contemporary art. This year’s exhibition entitled ‘quid – quid est – quid est?’ contains works by 16 established artists from Iceland, there including Hildigunnur Birgisdóttir, Iceland’s representative at the upcoming Venice Biennale in 2024.
When traveling South the next site of interest would be Höfn í Hornafirði. The town’s art museum, Svavarsafn, recently opened a new exhibition dedicated to the developing years of the abstract artist Svavar Guðnason (1909-1988). In the artist-run MUUR, there is an ongoing exhibition series focusing on artists couples who have worked together or separately throughout their careers. The current exhibition presents Finnur Arnar Arnarson and Áslaug Thorlacius’s work.
Along the picturesque coastline heading south the next site is 400 km towards Selfoss. The artist-run museum and project space Turf House Museum, established in 2006, hosts both educational programs and art exhibitions and events. In the next town, Hveragerði the LÁ Art Museum celebrates the museum´s 60th anniversary with a retrospective from the collection ‘Cornerstone’ featuring artwork from the greatest masters of Icelandic art to lesser-known artists. The museum is open daily from 12-5 pm.
Continuing on to the southern peninsula the Reykjanes Art Museum is located in Reykjanesbær and recently opened a retrospective of the artist Snorri Ásmundsson. The exhibition is titled ‘Boðflenna’ and is ongoing until August 29.
Please note that opening hours and dates can be subject to change so please check the venue’s websites and social media platforms for further information.