Reykjavik prepares to don its Cultural Capital mantle

REYKJAVIK -- A number of events connected with Reykjavik's selection as one of the nine European Cultural Capital cities in 2000 will be staged here next year during a virtual nonstop program of activities.

Image Besides celebrating the turn of a new millennium, the city will be commemorating a thousand years of Christianity in Iceland as well as the first European voyage to North America, which was led by Icelandic-born Leif Eriksson.

In addition, several cultural institutions will hold special programs to mark their anniversaries during the year, including the Reykjavik International Arts Festival, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, the National Theatre of Iceland and the National Broadcasting Service.

The Reykjavik Arts Festival, which has been held every even-numbered year since 1970, will take place next year from May 20 to June 8. An events calendar will be available in November. In November, 2000, a large-scale Nordic cultural festival will be held in the city to coincide with a meeting here of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Here is a rundown of some of the city's galleries and museums:

  • The Einar Jonsson Museum contains the works of Iceland's best-known sculptor. The building was designed by Jonsson himself in 1923. The museum is open daily (except Mondays) from 1:30 to 4 p.m., June 1 to Sept. 15.
  • The National Museum has a historical museum on the ground floor that depicts Icelandic history and culture from its earliest days. The National Art Gallery, which displays Icelandic and foreign 19th- and 20th-century visual arts, is on the second floor. The museum is open daily in summer.
  • The Nordic House is a center for Nordic culture. It offers traveling exhibitions, concerts, lectures, films based on Nordic themes and a library of Scandinavian literature. From June 5 to Aug. 15, Nordic House will exhibit photos of well-known people from the nine European Cultural Capital Cities. From Aug. 17 to 29, Einar Vigfusson's "wooden birds" will be on display. From Aug. 28 to Sept. 21, drawings by the Finnish writer Maikki Harjanne will be featured. From Aug. 28 to Oct. 24, "Princess for a Day," an exhibit for children ages 4 to 12, will be presented. The exhibition hall is open from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
  • The Asgrimur Jonsson Museum exhibits the works of Iceland's first famous landscape painter. When he died, he left half of his art to the Icelandic government, which set up this museum in the building that was once his home.
  • The Asmundur Sveinsson Museum recognizes the works of one of Iceland's best known sculptors. His garden is full of statues, and his studio is open for tours. A selection of his works from the collection will be exhibited from May 20 to Dec. 30. The igloo-shaped gallery was designed by the sculptor. The exhibit is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., May 1 to Sept. 30, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the off season.
  • The Asmunder Sveinsson House & Labour Unions Art Gallery should not be confused with the artist's gallery described above. The building, which was designed in 1933 by Sveinsson in collaboration with the architect, now houses the Icelandic Labour Unions Art Gallery. The next exhibition, "Sculptures From Norway," will be displayed from June 6 to 27. This will be followed by an exhibit of the sculptures of Stefan Jonsson from July 31 to Aug. 22. From Aug. 28 to Sept. 12, the museum will feature an exhibit of Inga Ragnarsdottir sculptures. The gallery is open daily from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • The National Gallery of Iceland is best known for its visiting exhibitions by Icelandic artists. The next exhibit of Icelandic art is set to run from May 29 to Sept. 12. The gallery is open daily (except Mondays) from noon to 6 p.m. from Jan. 15 to Dec. 15.
  • The Natural History Museum may be worth a look for those who are interested in Iceland's geology, fauna and flora. It is open on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 1:30 to 4 p.m.
  • The Sigurjon Olafsson Museum has a standing collection of this sculptor and portraitist's works. It doubles as a venue for concerts catering to a range of musical tastes. Concerts are held on Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. from June to August, the same months that the museum is open. Museum hours are 8 to 10 p.m., Mondays to Thursdays, and 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Kjarvalsstadir in Miklatun Park is dedicated to the work of Iceland's most popular painter, Johannes Kjarval (1885-1972). The museum features the Kjarval salon and a second hall for visiting exhibitions. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
  • Icelandic Tourist Board
    Phone: (212) 885-9786
    Fax: (212) 885-9710

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