Monument to the Unknown Bureaucrat – Reykjavik, Iceland - Atlas Obscura

Monument to the Unknown Bureaucrat

Iceland's tribute to its thankless civil servants.  


The phrase “faceless bureaucrat” is generally not meant as a compliment. But in Reykjavik, these seemingly anonymous workers are immortalized in art.

There, next to a duck pond, stands a statue of a man wielding a briefcase, walking toward city hall. It’s a common everyday sight; a depiction of the everyday “faceless” city officials on their way to work. However, this official is a bit different from its living inspirations, as it is literally faceless.

A large slab of Icelandic volcanic basalt sits where you would expect to see a torso and head. The unique statue was sculpted by Magnús Tómasson in 1994, and you’ll have to decide for yourself whether it was meant as a serious tribute, or a humorous, satirical piece.

Monuments to an unknown soldier are common around the globe, but as Iceland has no standing army, perhaps a tribute to the civilians who serve their country is the next best thing.

Know Before You Go

The monument is a short walk from the Reykjavík Official Tourist Information Centre, so you can easily pass by it while on your way to plan your adventures within and outside the city.