The Icelandic Folk and Outsider Art Museum was founded in 1995 by artist Níels Hafstein and his wife Magnhildur Sigurðardóttir, who is a psychiatric nurse. The museum is located in north Iceland, close to Svalbarðsströnd (about 10 minutes’ drive from Akureyri). It consists of two adjoined vintage buildings with a local history, one being the former primary school and community centre, while the other was built in 1900 to house the district’s first co-op. The museum was re-opened after renovation in 2007 with 10 display rooms of various sizes, altogether 474 square metres of exhibition space.

For over 30 years the museum’s founders have been passionately committed to collecting artworks by artists who have hitherto been looked upon as being outside the cultural mainstream, often also called naïve orbrut. Artists who have a real and direct connection to an original creational spirit; true, unspoiled and free. The main goal of the Icelandic Folk and Outsider Art Museum is to exhibit and introduce to the public these self-taught artists and autodidacts, who have frequently not been acknowledged or recognized as artists in their own right. Sometimes works by autodidacts are even hidden for decades in shelves and cellars in other art museums, never displayed since they do not fit that particular museum’s exhibition policy.

By exhibiting works by autodidacts in juxtaposition with the works of renowned contemporary artists, the Icelandic Folk and Outsider Art Museum focuses on all artistic creation without discrimination, the only criterion being the quality of the artworks. Since the museum was founded over twenty years ago, it has over time reached its ultimate goal, to bring folk and outsider art from the periphery to the centre, and at the same time to lure modern artists, trained at the best art schools and academies, into fruitful collaboration.

The Icelandic Folk and Outsider Art Museum is a unique art museum in Iceland, initially collecting artworks by all major contemporary folk artists and autodidacts in Iceland, whose works form the core of the collection, while also gradually acquiring an excellent collection of art by modern trained artists. The base collection consists today of about 6,200 artworks by 323 artists, dating from the mid-19th century to present times. In addition there is a special department consisting of 120.000 works by Þórður Guðmundur Valdimarsson (1922-2002), alias Kikó Korríró.

The Icelandic Folk and Outsider Art Museum is in a constant state of renewal, gaining sharper contour and policy by each year. Its aim is to appeal to the child inside men and women, as well as to children themselves, to strengthen through play and work the values that inform the creative process; clear vision, spontaneity, receptivity, wonder, humour, innocent narrative and expression. At the same time the museum aims to open people’s eyes to the beauty of diverse artworks, objects and memories, as well as the harmony between individual activity and mass production, showing how one object is connected to another, alludes to a third and possibly adjoins the fourth.

It is the Icelandic Folk and Outsider Art Museum’s ambition to create valuable knowledge by thorough research of folk and outsider art, and to exhibit works from the collection in an ongoing dialogue with present times and art movements. It aims to meet the utmost standards of professionalism and responsibility, to introduce original ideas and maintain its vision of artistic equality.

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Private organisation

Permanent address:

Svalbarðsströnd, 601 Akureyri


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Full time: 2

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