The Hafnarborg Collection now counts over 1,400 works of art. The chemist, Sverrir Magnússon, and his wife, Ingibjörg Sigurjónsdóttir, laid the foundations of the museum with an extensive donation of artworks in 1983. The painter Eiríkur Smith also made a large contribution of art in 1990, as did Elías B. Halldórsson and Gunnar Hjaltson, who both donated a number of their own graphic works. Many other artists and individuals have contributed to the collection as well and Hafnarborg seeks to purchase works in accordance with the museum’s policy and budget. Selections from the Collection are exhibited on a regular basis.
The artworks donated by Sverrir and Ingibjörg formed the basis of the Hafnarborg Collection, counting nearly 200 works by pioneers of Icelandic art, such as Kjarval, Nína Tryggvadóttir, Jóhann Briem and Júlíana Sveinsdóttir. Sverrir himself began collecting art around the time of the Great Depression, when he acquired a watercolour painting by Ólafur Túbals. This was the starting point, but the collection grew piece by piece, as Sverrir kept a keen eye on art exhibitions, regularly purchasing works and adding to the collection. Looking at the Founding Collection, most of the works are traditional landscapes, town scenes of Hafnarfjörður and still life paintings, perhaps reflecting the taste of the bourgeoisie at a certain period in Icelandic history.
As stated above, the Hafnarborg Collection now counts over 1,400 works of art – paintings, three-dimensional pieces, videos, and outdoor works. For 2018, the Art Council of Hafnarborg has an acquisition budget of two million ISK – up from an annual budget of one million ISK previously – and the museum is strives to make every króna count. Typically, the Director makes proposals of which works to purchase, often in relation to exhibitions in the museum, as it is deemed of importance that the Collection reflects the exhibition program of the museum. All proposed acquisitions, both gifts and purchases, must be approved by the Art Council of Hafnarborg before being accepted to the Collection.
The Hafnarborg Collection is listed online in the electronic museum collection database Sarpur, which is open to the public at www.sarpur.is. However, it should be noted that not all images of the catalogued works are available online as Myndstef, The Icelandic Visual Art Copyright Association, opposes the right of museums to grant access to images of artworks within online collection databases. While this matter has not been resolved, the museum can only make available images of artwork by those artists who have granted Hafnarborg special permission for public access.