Einar Jonsson was Iceland’s first sculptor. He actually made plans to create the Einar Jonsson museum, with the museum building representing his largest sculpture. 

Einar attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen from 1896-99. He was a ground-breaking figure in Icelandic sculpture, and he considerably influenced Iceland’s visual art scene. Einar Jonsson laid the foundation for Icelandic sculpture with his first publicly exhibited work, The Outlaws, which exhibited at the Spring Salon in Copenhagen in 1901.

Einar returned to Iceland where he produced an amazing body of work, none of it seen outside the country. Unlike most other sculptors, Einar worked almost entirely in plaster. This was because it was hard to find good modelling clay in Iceland. Working in plaster allowed Einar to create  individual sculptures for years.  It was not unusual for him to spend over a decade creating a particular piece.

In 1909, Einar Jonsson offered all of his works as a gift to the Icelandic people on the condition that the country build a museum for them. However, the Icelandic Parliament did not accept the gift until 1914. The Parliament contributed 10,000 crowns to the construction of the Einar Jonsson museum, while a national collection yielded 20,000 crowns in private donations.

Unquestionably, the Einar Jonsson museum building is his own design, although architect Einar Erlendsson officially signed the plans for the museum in June 1916. The Einar Jonsson Museum opened on Midsummer’s Day in 1923.  It was the country’s very first art museum.

Opening hours of the Einar Jonson Museum

Tuesdays – Sundays: 12pm – 17 (5pm)

GPS: 64.141893 N, -21.928893 W