Hafnarhús is home to the Erró Collection, and works from the collection are always on display. Erró is one of the pioneers of pop art in Europe, and without doubt one of Iceland’s most well known contemporary artists. In Hafnarhús there is also great emphasis placed on exhibiting progressive and experimental art by renowned Icelandic and international contemporary artists, as well as young, up-and-coming talents.
There are several events held in Hafnarhús each year, and it provides a venue for various festivals, such as Iceland Airwaves. There are six exhibition spaces in the building, in addition to an outdoor yard that is almost unique in Icelandic architecture, a multifunctional space, and a library. There is also a place for children called Moment – A Place to Create, intended for all those who need an outlet for their creativity.
At the restaurant Frú Lauga Matstofa, guests can enjoy healthy and delicious dishes, Italian wine and beer, organic coffee, together with tempting cakes.
Guðmundur Guðmundsson (b. 1932), better known as Erró, is without a doubt the best known contemporary artist of Iceland.
After studying in Iceland, at the age of 20 he was admitted to the Oslo Academy of Fine Art, Norway. In 1954 he studied at the Florence Academy of Art and later in Ravenna, Italy, where he focussed on mosaic technique. In 1958 he moved to Paris in 1958, where he was accepted by the local Surrealists with open arms. In 1963, Erró travelled for the first time to New York and came into contact with Pop Art, which was coming into vogue at the time. For the next few years he worked in different media, such as performance art and experimental cinema, in addition to painting.
Erró quickly became one of the pioneers of Pop Art and European narrative figuration. Erró has lived in Paris for more than fifty years; he usually spends part of the winter in Thailand and in summer he stays at his house in Formentera, Spain.
Hafnarhús is situated by the old harbour in the oldest part of Reykjavík, where the earliest wharf and age-old moorings lay. The building was designed by one of the originators of Icelandic architecture, architect Sigurður Guðmundsson, in collaboration with harbour master Þórarinn Kristjánsson. The building was built in 1933-39, expanded in 1957-58, and renovated by the architect office Studio Granda in 1998-2000 to house the programs of the Reykjavik Art Museum.
In 1989 Erró gave the City of Reykjavík a large collection of his works, a total of about 2,000 items, including paintings, watercolours, graphic art, sculptures, collages and other works spanning the artist's entire career from his youth. In addition to the art works, Erró gave the city an extensive collection of private correspondence and other documents relevant to his artistic career. These rich sources are of great value for all research on the artist Erró and his time.
The collection has grown steadily over the years; Erró has continued to add to the gift and in addition works have been purchased for the collection, which now numbers about 4,000 works of art.