Museums in Reykjavík | Your Guide

Perlan at sunset

Which museums can be visited in Reykjavík, and what kind of exhibitions do they display? What are the opening hours, and how much are the admission fees? These questions will be answered ahead, so read on to learn more about visiting museums in Iceland’s vibrant capital city. 

Iceland has a rich, varied history, starting with Norse settlers who arrived in the 9th century.

To become the modern democratic republic we know and love today, a long series of events have shaped this island’s geology, and culture, including disruptive volcanic eruptions, military occupations, and artistic movements.

Walking through Photo: Golli. Árbær Open Air Museum
Photo: Golli. Guests at the Árbær Open Air Museum

There is no better way of learning more about Iceland’s history than by visiting the different kinds of museums in Reykjavík, the capital city.

Not only does it offer a healthy dose of intellectual curiosity, but it helps to break up the seemingly endless sightseeing in Iceland’s nature. 

Perlan Museum and Observation Deck

A rainbow over Perlan, one of the museums in Reykjavík
Photo: Golli. A rainbow over Perlan Museum and Observation Deck

Those who have spent any time exploring Reykjavík will have noticed a forested hillside outside of the downtown area. This area is named Öskjuhlíð; from its treeline, a distinctive dome peeks out. It is as much a part of the city skyline as Hallgrimskirja or Harpa Concert Hall, but not everyone is aware of its true purpose, nor what lies in wait there for those who take the time to visit.  

What was once the city’s water treatment centre has since been converted to the beloved visitors attraction, Perlan Museum and Observation Deck. This fun and interactive exhibition space is a great location for adults and children alike to learn more about Iceland’s amazing nature in a simulated and entertaining way. 

 

Inside are many recreated scenes from around Iceland, including an ice tunnel and a huge model of the Látrabjarg bird-cliffs. There are also cinematic shows focused on the Northern Lights and the Geldingadalir volcanic eruption. Plus, there is an informative exhibition about the importance of water in Iceland, complete with a virtual aquarium.

On top of the four huge water tanks that surround Perlan’s dome sits a beautiful observation deck, allowing for 360° views of Reykjavík and its bordering nature. When you’ve finished appreciating the views, you can stop by the various amenities on offer, including a restaurant and bar, a gift shop, and even an ice cream parlour. 

Address: Öskjuhlíð, 105 Reykjavík

Contact: 566 9000

National Museum of Iceland (Þjóðminjasafn Íslands)

World War II soldiers in Iceland
Photo: National Museum of Iceland. WW2 soldiers in Iceland.

The National Museum of Iceland is the best place in the city to boost your knowledge about the history of this island. Established February 24 1863, the museum was founded as the Antiquarian Collection, taking on a wide array of historical objects that had, until then, been stored in Denmark. 

Its name was changed in 1911, long before the country gained its independence in 1944. Until then, the museum’s collection was stored in various attics across the city, and it was only when Iceland became a nation in its own right that a dedicated building was offered by the government. Today, the museum has been completely refurbished to meet modern standards.  

Their permanent exhibition traces Iceland’s timeline from the Viking era, all the way up to the modern day, allowing guests to journey through the centuries with a mix of informative display boards, photographs, and intriguing artefacts. There are around 2000 objects to look at and appreciate, some dating back to the Settlement Era

Address: Suðurgata 41, 102 Reykjavík

Contact: 530 2200

The Reykjavík Art Museum (Listasafn Reykjavíkur)

Hafnarhús art museum
Photo: Golli. Hafnarhús is one of the museums in Reykjavík

The Reykjavík Art Museum is housed in three separate buildings – Hafnarhús, Kjarvalsstaðir, and Ásmundarsafn, the former home of the Icelandic sculptor, Ásmundur Sveinsson.

Hafnarhús is located in downtown Reykjavík, near the scenic Old Harbour. Actually, this one of the museum’s buildings is a refurbished warehouse that was once used as part of Iceland’s fishing industry. 

The main draw here is that it is permanent home to the work of visual artist, Erró, who made great strides in the pop-art movement. Those arriving from Keflavik Airport will have already seen his work as a comic-style mosaic within the terminal. 

Aside from Erró’s work, Hafnarhús’ revolving exhibitions offers the chance to see pieces by other upcoming artists from Iceland, as well as purchase sophisticated souvenir pieces to brighten up your home.  

What other buildings make up the Reykjavík Art Museum

The second of the museum’s buildings, Kjarvalsstaðir, can be found in Klambratún Park. Klambratún is a lovely green space often occupied by dog walkers and frisbee-golfers. This was the first building in Iceland designed specifically to display artworks. In fact, it is built in the style of Nordic Modernism. 

Host to modern art and sculpture, Kjarvalsstaðir is named after Jóhannes S. Kjarval, one of Iceland’s most influential and eccentric artists. Born in poverty, he rised to great heights in Icelandic society as a painter of many broad styles, including the likes of Expressionism, Impressionism, and Cubism. In fact, he was so revered in his time that he was awarded Iceland’s highest honour – the Order of the Falcon – but as a true outsider, he declined to accept it. Today, he is memorialised on the 2000 krona note.    

With its dome structure and slanting white walls, the final building belonging to the Reykjavík Art Museum, Ásmundarsafn, is visually striking at first glance. This is no shock given that it is the former home of the prized Icelandic sculptor, Ásmundur Sveinsson, whose sometimes controversial impact on the world of sculpture can be seen in every detail of this fascinating place. 

The garden surrounding this futuristic, almost Mediterranean-style building is dotted with Sveinsson’s abstract creations. The inside displays more of his work alongside other contemporary artists who took inspiration from this great artist. Ásmundarsafn makes for a great stop while visiting other nearby attractions like Reykjavík botanical gardens and Reykjavík zoo.  

Address: Tryggvagata 17, 101 Reykjavík

Contact: 411 6400

The Saga Museum (Saga minjasafn)

Reykjavík statue
Photo: Golli. A statue in Reykjavík

The mediaeval sagas tell legends from the early Settlement Period in Iceland, but even English translations of these historic works can be challenging to understand. One way to make these stories more accessible is by visiting the Saga Museum, which helps history come to life. 

Here, they convey some of the greatest Icelandic characters and stories through the use of life-sized models, complete with traditional clothing and authentically replicated weapons and props. 

There are seventeen exhibitions on display, informing guests of events like the reformation and the black death, as well as allowing you to up close and personal with some of the most influential Icelanders who ever lived, such as the great writer Snorri Sturluson and the Viking explorer, Leif Erikson. 

Address: Grandagarður 2, 101 Reykjavík

Contact: 511 1517

Reykjavík City Museum (Reykjavíkurborgarsafn)

Dressing up at Árbær Open Air Museum
Photo: Golli. Árbær Open Air Museum

The Reykjavík City Museum hosts five separate exhibitions across Iceland’s capital, allowing you to hop from one to the other while taking in the picturesque urban sights along the way.

Outside of downtown is Arbaer Open-Air Museum, where many historical buildings have been either moved, or lovingly recreated, to show what life in Iceland was like in prior times. Then there is the Settlement Exhibition, which offers deep insights into how Reykjavík and its surrounding areas were first developed by the Norse settlers. 

The Reykjavík Maritime Museum is the go-to place to learn more about how Icelanders have lived by, and been defined by, their surrounding coastal waters. Here you will learn about the nation’s fishing industry, its coast guard, and the various species that live around this island. 

Reykjavík Old Harbour
Photo: Golli. Outside of Reykjavík Maritime Museum

Speaking of islands, The Reykjavík City Museum also owns the small but scenic Videy. This speck of land which can be seen from the shores of the city. There are many nature trails for you to enjoy on Videy, as well as Yoko Ono’s art exhibition, The Peace Tower. This installation is dedicated to the late-beatle, John Lennon. Ferries travel between Reykjavík and Videy every day, so long as the weather permits it. 

Finally, there is the Museum of Photography, documenting the history of this city, and this nation. Its collection exceeds approximately 6-million fascinating images. Some of its oldest photographs date back to 1860, offering a intriguing look at how Reykjavík looked in the past. 

Address: Aðalstræti 10, 101 Reykjavík

Contact: 411 6370

The Icelandic Phallological Museum (Hið Íslenska Reðasafn)

Animal organs on display at the Penis Museum
Photo: Penis Museum

Colloquially known as ‘The Penis Museum’, the Icelandic Phallological Museum is one of the only establishments in the world dedicated to the male genitalia. Whether you consider that a good thing or not is entirely down to personal preference.

Regardless of snickering, the fascination the male member draws from the public cannot be denied. Some might call the penis proud, others fearsome, but typically, amusing is the most common descriptor. Given the key rings, t-shirts, and phallic pasta noodles in the gift shop, one knows the museum is all too aware of this. 

Being good-humoured is one thing, but that’s the least of what’s on offer. For one, it is not just human-derived specimens the museum focuses on, but also those that once belonged to the many animal species found across Iceland. 

There is nothing obscene about the museum (except, perhaps, the gift shop.) Those scientifically inclined – and capable of keeping a straight face – will discover plenty to love in its exhibitions and displays. 

Address: Kalkofnsvegur 2, 101 Reykjavík, Ísland, 101 Reykjavík

Contact: 561 6663

The Northern Lights Center (Norðurljósasafnið)

Auroras above the trees
Photo: Golli. The auroras lighting up the trees!

One of the greatest allures during winter in Iceland is seeing the Northern Lights, sometimes known as the Aurora Borealis. As with any natural phenomena, there is no guarantee they will appear during your time here. Their visibility is highly dependent on cloud cover, solar activity, and light pollution in the area. 

If your chances of seeing them look slim, visit Aurora Reykjavík: the Northern Lights Centre in the Grandi neighbourhood. An interactive exhibition details the mythology and science behind the auroras. And a 7 m wide cinema displays awe-inspiring footage of the lights in action. 


But that’s not all. There are also entertaining, informative workshops dedicated to teaching you how best to photograph this wonder of nature. Finally, a photo-booth simulates the Northern Lights should they remain elusive during your stay. 

The gift shop allows you to purchase any number of aurora-inspired souvenirs, including high-quality prints, clothing, and ornaments. 

Address: Grandagarður 2, 101 Reykjavík

Contact: 780 4500

In Summary

What museums in Reykjavík can you visit?
Photo: Golli. Reykjavík at dusk.

With so much to see and do in Iceland, it is unlikely you will visit all the museums in Reykjavík.

In fact, unless your trip is purely orientated towards Iceland’s history, no one would advise it. There are a wealth of other activities and attractions on offer.

Still, exploring the capital’s museums will provide a greater insight into the culture and history of this enchanting country.  

12 Things to do With Kids in Reykjavík City

Children playing in Ægissíða, Reykjavík

Travelling with kids is certainly a little different than travelling with only adults. It requires consideration for little feet but that’s no reason to worry. Iceland is a remarkably kid-friendly country, where locals embrace the idea of children being a part of their daily life rather than needing constant entertainment with specific activities. That being said, Reykjavík city has enough fun, child-friendly activities to offer.

 

Family friendly museums

Exploring Reykjavík´s family-friendly museums offers a mix of learning and fun for young and old alike, making them an essential stop for any family visiting Iceland.Here are four must-visit museums in Reykjavík that are fun for everyone:

1. Þjóðminjasafnið museum

The National Museum of Iceland has an informative exhibition of the making of Iceland’s nation and its culture. While the adults delve into the rich heritage, the kids can embark on their own little adventure with a museum bingo card. This definitely adds an element of excitement to their exploration through the museum. From ancient artefacts to skeletons and opportunities to dress up in traditional Icelandic attire, there is something to engage every young mind. 

Open Air Museum in Iceland
Photo: Golli. Árbæjarsafn Open Air Museum

 

2. Árbæjarsafnið Open-Air museum

Located in the outskirts of Reykjavík, Árbæjarsafnið Open-Air museum offers a unique glimpse into Reykjavík´s past. Wander through a collection of historic houses, many of which were wholly relocated from the city centre, and imagine daily life in Reykjavík in the 19th and 20th century. During the summer months, museum staff walks around, dressed in period attire, adding an interactive dimension to the experience. 

 

3. Perlan museum

Situated on a wooded hill in the heart of Reykjavík is Perlan, also known as the Pearl. Renowned for its distinctive architecture, Perlan features a glass dome placed on four repurposed water tanks, making it one of Reykjavík´s most iconic landmarks. Inside you can explore a world of wonders, including a glacial ice cave, a planetarium show and an interactive display of Icelandic nature and culture. Don´t forget to take a stroll along the glass dome´s balcony and treat yourself to an ice cream while you enjoy the breathtaking panoramic view of Reykjavík.

 

4. Whales of Iceland

For an amazing experience dedicated to the majestic creatures of the sea, head to Whales of Iceland. This interactive museum is the largest one in Europe that is fully dedicated to whales. In the museum you can find 23 life-sized whale sculptures that are based on actual whales found in Icelandic waters. Complete your experience with a drink at their café and let the kids play at the designated play area. The museum is in walking distance from the city centre and you can enjoy the colourful boats in the harbour along the way.

 

Get free access to a number of museums, pools and more with the Reykjavík City Card. 

 

Activities for the whole family

As you plan your family adventure in Reykjavík city, discover a selection of activities favoured by locals. From cherished pastimes to lesser-known gems, these experiences will make it even more fun to explore the Icelandic capital.

Swimming pool in Iceland
Photo: Golli. Swimming pool in Iceland

 

5. The swimming pools of Reykjavík

Icelanders love their swimming pools and the culture around them is quite the phenomenon. With almost 20 pools in the greater capital region, there is a good chance you can find one conveniently located near you. Each pool has a designated children’s pool and hot tubs, where you can easily relax while the kids splash around. Most pools will provide floaties for the children’s safety as well as some water toys to play with. Complete the Icelandic experience with a late afternoon dip, followed by a traditional hot dog for dinner. It’s safe to say your little ones will sleep soundly afterwards.

 

6. Húsdýra- og fjölskyldugarðurinn petting zoo

While Iceland may not have a traditional zoo, visitors can enjoy the charm of a petting zoo located near Reykjavík city centre. Here you will meet some friendly Icelandic farm animals, seals, reindeer and more. The park is divided into two sections: the petting zoo and a family park where you will find a large playground and some carnival rides. Feel free to bring packed lunches as picnic tables and outdoor grill areas are available for a full day of family fun. 

 

7. Noztra creative workshop

For families with a knack for creativity, Noztra Workshop is just the place to unleash your talents. Their ´paint your own pottery´ café provides a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, perfect for a creative session. Located near the old harbour at the Grandi area, this cosy studio invites you to enjoy a creative cup of coffee while crafting memories together. Note that children under 8 years old are welcome until 4 PM daily.

 

8. Indoor playgrounds

In Reykjavík you can find two indoor playgrounds, providing entertainment for children up to 9 years old:

  • Fjölskylduland (Familyland) is a holistic indoor playground and family centre in the outskirts of Reykjavík. It offers a safe and stimulating environment for children up to six years old. Fjölskylduland creates a supportive environment for families by hosting events and offering parents workshops and classes.
  • Ævintýraland (Adventureland) is an indoor playground situated in Kringlan shopping-mall. Children from age 4 to 9 are welcome for some supervised fun while the parents indulge in a little bit of shopping. 

 

Free family friendly activities in Reykjavík

Children playing in Iceland
Photo: Golli. Children playing at Ægissíða in Reykjavík city.

Exploring Reykjavík doesn’t have to break the bank. From playgrounds and parks to a seaside treasure hunt, Reykjavík offers enough activities that won’t cost you a thing!

9. Grasagarðurinn

This park is a beautiful destination, especially during the summer months. Located in Laugardalur, it is next to Húsdýragarðurinn petting zoo and the famous Laugardalshöll swimming pool. Grasagarðurinn park showcases Iceland´s flora and nestled in its midst is an adorable greenhouse-like café. If you venture further into the park, towards the swimming pool, you will find a playground next to a historic site where Reykjavík´s housewives used to do their laundry. 

They would travel along Laugavegur, the main street of the city centre, and end up at the washing pool in the park. In Icelandic ´laug´ means ´pool,´ which explains why places and streets in the area are all called Laugar– something. 

 

10. Harpa Concert Hall

Whether or not you plan to attend a concert, a visit to Harpa is a must. This beautiful building, home to the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, has a very unique glass architecture and offers stunning views of Faxaflói bay and mount Esja from within the building. Families are warmly welcomed at Harpa, where children can enjoy the fun, musical-themed play area and even learn a thing or two about music.  For those seeking a cultural experience for their Reykjavík itinerary, check Harpa’s calendar for interactive concerts tailored for children.

11. Playgrounds

Every child loves a trip to the local playground, better known as ‘róló’ by the locals. These fun play areas are scattered throughout Reykjavík, offering countless opportunities for young adventurers to let their imaginations soar. In downtown Reykjavík, Hljómskálagarðurinn park boasts a charming playground where children can climb, run, and play to their heart’s content. Surrounded by lush greenery and overlooking Tjörnin pond, it’s the perfect spot for families to unwind and enjoy some outdoor fun.

After closing hours, typically around 5 PM, children are also welcome to use the outdoor areas of Reykjavík’s kindergartens. This provides additional opportunities for some playtime and maybe even some social interactions with locals.

12. Fjöruferð – a treasure hunt at Reykjavík´s black beaches

children on the beach in Iceland
Photo: Golli. Children playing in the Icelandic “fjara”.

A favourite activity among Icelandic children is going on a treasure hunt at the black beaches during low tide. As the tide recedes, you will find plenty of interesting little things like shells, crabs, polished stones and more. In Icelandic, there’s a distinct difference between ‘strönd,’ which refers to a typical beach, and ‘fjara,’ which refers to the black beach during low tide. Gather your family for a nice stroll along the shore of Ægissíða and enjoy the refreshing sea breeze while you hunt for your own Icelandic souvenirs. Just remember to always be careful as stones can be slippery and winds can be hard.

 

To make the most of your family trip, consider staying in Reykjavík and renting a car. This allows for flexibility in your plans, ensuring you can balance day trips into nature with more relaxed days exploring the city. Happy travelling!

Icelanders Want Their Bones Back

þjóðminjasafn íslands

Skulls found to be missing from a graveyard in Haffarðarey in West Iceland have turned up in Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Some Icelanders are working to return them to Iceland. National Geographic reports.

These skulls were once part of Harvard University’s eugenics research and represented the Nordic Icelandic race. Now, researchers in Iceland and the U.S. are interested in reuniting these skulls with the rest of the bodies, currently located at the National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavik.

þjóðminjasafn íslands
Þjóðminjasafn Íslands

The skulls in question  were collected by anthropologist Vilhjálmur Stefánsson, who sought to study them as part of his eugenics research during a time when Iceland was considered a preserved example of the Nordic “golden age.” At the time, anthropologists such as Vilhjálmur were interested in the study of teeth. Because Icelanders led a fish-based diet with virtually no sugar, their teeth were of special interest, as they supposedly never formed cavities. Such research was, however, often fraught with racial theories that held Icelanders up as a forgotten time capsule of an original Germanic culture.

Icelandic academics, such as Gísli Pálsson, have also spoken up on the matter, stating that the remains ought to be repatriated.

Currently, US law obliges museum collections to repatriate the remains of indigenous groups within the US, but no such laws or treaties exist for repatriating the remains of foreign nationals.

Harpa Þórsdóttir, director of the National Museum, stated to National Geographic: “The National Museum of Iceland welcomes a conversation on the repatriation of the skeletal remains from Haffjarðarey. Ultimately, we want what is ethically best for the collection, while also considering the importance of their long-term preservation.”

 

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Turf and Rescue

farmhouse iceland

Austur-Meðalholt Hannes Lárusson grew up in a cluster of turf houses on the farmstead Austur-Meðalholt in Southwest Iceland.His ancestors moved there around 1850. The houses they constructed were made with the remnants of the land’s pre-existing houses, which slouched near the marshes when they arrived. The history of the farmstead stretches nearly as far back […]

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Excavation Underway at the Árbær Open Air Museum

Archaeology

Archaeological excavations are currently underway at the Árbær Open Air Museum in Reykjavík. As noted in a press release, the research project primarily focuses on structures dating back to the 13th-17th centuries, with museum guests afforded the opportunity of witnessing the unveiling of new knowledge “‘live.”

Over 1,800 artefacts discovered since 2016

Árbær was an established farm well into the 20th century, prior to being converted to a museum in 1957. Today, the Árbær Open Air Museum is home to more than 20 buildings – most of which have been relocated from central Reykjavík – that form a town square, a village, and a farm.

As noted in a press release from the City of Reykjavík, archaeological excavations are currently underway at the museum, where a team of archaeologists and archaeology students from the University of Iceland are delving into the ancient origins of the Árbær farm. Unearthing relics spanning from the 10th to the 20th century – when the last inhabitants departed from the farm – the research primarily focuses on structures dating back to the 13th-17th centuries. Additionally, attention is being given to Árbær’s ash heap, which holds a treasure trove of artefacts from various periods, as well as animal bones and fireplace ashes.

“Since its commencement in 2016,” the press release notes, “the investigation has yielded over 1,800 artefacts, ranging from screws, nails, and scissors to sharpeners, sledgehammers, glass bottles, beads, numbers, and ornamental book decorations. The findings provide compelling evidence of Árbær’s abundant access to imported household goods during the 17th century, particularly pertaining to tableware associated with dining and beverages. Among the discoveries are fragments of intricate glass containers, knives, and cooking vessels once employed during grand feasts.”

Titled “The Ancient Roots of Árbær” (i.e. Fornar rætur Árbæjar), the research project aims to explore the farm’s history from its inception, shedding light on its economy and the daily lives of its inhabitants. “Considering that the earliest written sources about the farm date back to the mid-15th century, this endeavour promises to significantly augment the researchers’ understanding of life within this locale. It is a rare occurrence for town mounds in Iceland to be subjected to such comprehensive scrutiny, and the fact that these excavations are transpiring within a museum setting, where visitors can witness the unveiling of new knowledge ‘live,’ makes this undertaking truly unique.”

Does Iceland Have a National Library?

national and university library of iceland

Yes, it does, but it’s more properly known as the National and University Library of Iceland.

It’s by the far the largest library in Iceland, but despite Iceland’s long literary history, it’s a rather new addition to Reykjavík. It was only established in 1994 by an agreement between the former National Library (established in 1818) and the University Library (established in 1940). Before the library took on its current form, the National Library of Iceland was housed in the House of Collections, which now houses a museum.

Debate began already in the 1950s that it was inefficient to have two major research libraries in separate buildings. The former location in the House of Collections was also considered to be insufficient for the future needs of the National Library system, so the decision was made to construct a new home for the collection.

After some economic setbacks in the 1970s that delayed the project, the first shovel was officially put in the ground in 1978. A fun fact is that Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, Iceland’s former president and the first democratically-elected female head of state in the world, helped lay the foundation for the building in 1981. As with many such projects, it ended up being delayed and over-budget. But finally, in 1994, the 50-year anniversary of Iceland’s independence, the new building was officially opened.

Now, the National and University Library houses a collection of around 1 million items of printed material and other media formats. Important parts of the library include its legal collection, historical documents, rare books and manuscripts, academic journals, and a comprehensive collection of nearly all Icelandic-language publications.

While it also serves as the research library for the University of Iceland, because it is also the National Library, it is open to all residents of Iceland.

Herring Era Museum Floods: ‘The exhibition area was basically floating’

The award-winning Herring Era Museum in Siglufjörður in North Iceland flooded on Friday, RÚV reports. Staff were met by 40 cm [15.7 in] of water when they arrived, and two days of heavy rain have only exacerbated the situation.

The Herring Era Museum – Síldarminjasafn Íslands, FB

Wellsprings located in the embankment behind the museum tend to collect water underground, and these simply overflowed after days of heavy rainfall. The runoff had no good drainage channel, something that fire chief Jóhann K. Jóhannsson says will need to be addressed in the future.

“[The water] rose really quickly,” said curator Aníta Elefsen. “Around noon, it had reached 77 cm [30 in] and the exhibition area was basically floating, I think that’s the only word for it.”

The Herring Era Museum – Síldarminjasafn Íslands, FB

Artifacts and cultural relics at risk

Located in a former salting station, boathouse, and herring factory in the centre of Siglufjörður, the Herring Era Museum offers an extensive, immersive glimpse into a fascinating period of Icelandic history. The museum has received numerous awards for its innovative curation and live exhibitions. It is, in fact, the only museum in the country to have won the European Museum Award.

The Herring Era Museum – Síldarminjasafn Íslands, FB

Unfortunately, it’s the main exhibition space that has flooded, and although firefighters have been running numerous pumps since Friday, they were still draining water away eight hours later, on Saturday morning. “I think we’re using every available pump in the municipality,” said Aníta.

She says it’s difficult to determine the extent of the damage to the collection at this time but hopes that staff will be able to start doing so early next week.

“Obviously, this is a great deal of water and it’s the exhibition space we’re talking about. There are artifacts and cultural relics. It’s hard to say right now—I think we’ll just have to wait until everything dries and we can walk through here […] without getting our feet wet to assess the situation.”

Dinomite Gift: Scientist Wants to Give Reykjavík 65-Million-Year-Old Triceratops Skeleton

Iceland may soon be welcoming an exceptional new resident, and quite an elderly one at that. Vísir reports that the City of Reykjavík may receive a 65-million-year-old triceratops skeleton from half-Icelandic scientist Marcus Eriksen, who is overseeing its excavation in the US state of Wyoming.

Eriksen is the co-founder of Leap Lab, “a center for art, science, and self-reliance,” which hosts an annual “Dino Extinction Expedition” during which laypeople, “ranging from four years old to 84,” take part in archeological digs for dinosaur skeletons in Wyoming’s Niobara County. Per the organization’s website, the goal of involving non-specialists in the excavation process is to “provide convincing evidence that preserving biodiversity and habitat today is essential to staving off the 6th extinction.”

Known as Ken, the triceratops skeleton was found five years ago by Eriksen’s daughter, Avani Cummings, who was only five years old at the time. Cummings’ first discovery was part of a rib, and that was followed by several more bones, including a vertebra from Ken’s tail. “We found some bite marks on it from a T-Rex,” Eriksen explained on the City of Reykjavik website. “This tells us a story about a dinosaur that managed to escape a predator and survive!”

Eriksen and his family, including his daughter Avani, who first found one of Ken’s bones when she was only five. Photo: Reykjavíkurborg, FB

Gift in honor of his mother

Interested amateur archeologists are invited to participate in one of Leap Lab’s two, week-long expeditions that will take place in July 2023. Eriksen is particularly interested in getting Icelanders involved in the dig. “I’d really like to get people from Reykjavík to come out to Wyoming next summer,” he said. “It would be nice for Icelanders to participate in the whole process, including digging up the bones.”

Amateur archeologists of all ages participate in the dino dig. Photo: Reykjavíkurborg, FB

About 30% of Ken’s bones have been excavated thus far. And after the skeleton is fully exhumed next summer, Eriksen would like to give it to Iceland, which has no such artefacts of its own. It’s likely that some bones will be missing from the skeleton, but Eriksen doesn’t think that will pose any problems for future exhibition. “I’m currently 3D scanning all the missing bones and think it would be great if we could find a 3D printer in Reykjavík and print out the bones that are missing there.”

There would be two conditions on the gift, however. Firstly, Eriksen wants the skeleton to be gifted in the name of his mother, who grew up in the capital, and secondly, he wants it to be displayed in a museum in Reykjavík.

Reykjavíkurborg, FB

“The gift would be given in the name of my mother and her siblings, who grew up in Reykjavík,” he said. “They’re now in their 90s. My mom moved to the US when I was three years old. She always worked hard to make sure that my brother and I were treated well, and I can thank her for my thirst for knowledge and strong, Icelandic work ethic. I’ve heard countless stories about her life in Reykjavík in the mid-20th century and I’d like to honor her generation with this gift to the city.”

The Reykjavík City Council has agreed to establish a working group to review the proposal to assess how much the gift would cost the city, confirm the skeleton’s provenance, and explore local museums’ interest in hosting Ken, should the city accept Eriksen’s gift. It’s anticipated that their assessment will be completed by May 1.

Skyr Exhibition Opens in Selfoss

The history of skyr production and consumption is the subject of a new exhibition that was just opened in Selfoss, South Iceland. Called Skyrland, the exhibition tells visitors the story behind Iceland’s characteristic dairy product, from the first settlers to the 21st century. The exhibition is located in Selfoss’ newly built city centre in the same building as a food hall.

At Skyrland “You’ll discover how 40 generations of women passed their skyr-making knowledge down, from mother to daughter, and how the story moved from isolated turf-roofed farms, to the world,” the exhibition’s website states. The exhibition features stops for all senses, including a “story wall,” an immersive scent exhibit, and even a tasting session for those who want to try the delicacy.

Skyr is a high-protein, low-fat, cultured dairy product. It is technically a cheese but it is consumed like a yogurt. Skyr has a sour flavour and is produced and sold commercially with added flavouring like blueberry or vanilla. It has been a staple of the Icelandic diet for centuries and is even mentioned in a number of Medieval sagas. Cultural historian Hallgerður Gísladóttir has suggested that skyr was produced across Scandinavia at the time Iceland was settled, but the tradition was lost elsewhere after that period.

Stolen Artefacts Returned to Icelandic Museum 50 Years Later

Glaumbær museum turf house

Three artefacts have been returned to Glaumbær Museum in North Iceland by post more than 50 years after they were stolen, RÚV reports. The museum staff was at first perplexed by the package, which contained no letter or explanation. They eventually contacted the sender in Germany, who had a strange explanation for the return of the items.

Last week Glaumbær Farm and Museum received a package from Germany in the post. The museum, a preserved turf farmhouse from the 18th and 19th centuries, often receives gifts in the post, though they are usually accompanied by letters explaining the origin and significance of the items enclosed.

Unmarked package bore familiar items

“There were three things in the package: a creamer, a butter tub, and a small backgammon checker, which is like a chip for backgammon. There was no explanation with them, no letter or memo,” stated Inga Katrín D. Magnúsdóttir, project manager at Byggðasafn Skagfirðinga (e. The Skagafjörður Settlement Museum), to which Glaumbær belongs. “[…W]e didn’t understand a thing but the more we thought about it and the more information we found here at the museum, the more exciting it became.”

artefacts Glaumbær turf house museum
A screenshot from RÚV. The artefacts were stolen in 1970 and returned to Glaumbær in August 2021.

Disappeared in 1970

A search in a database revealed more information about the objects. “The creamer, it was so familiar that we started to suspect that maybe it was possibly from here and then we went into our database, sarpur.is, and searched for the items we thought it resembled and then it came to light that there was an entry for this creamer and a comment had been written under it: ‘Disappeared from the museum July 23, 1970’.”

The museum staff decided to contact the sender who offered an interesting explanation for the items’ return. “He told us this story, that he had found these artefacts at a flea market many years ago and with the explanation that they were from Glaumbær in Skagafjörður. And now he was getting old and his descendants didn’t want to have them so he had decided to send them back now.”

Asked whether it was likely the man had stolen the items himself and returned them out of guilt, Inga Katrín stated only: “That may very well be.”