Visiting the museum is the best way to learn about the history of a city. The National Museum of Iceland was established on February 24, 1863, where the history of Iceland and the life and culture of Icelanders have been snarled. The permanent exhibition “Making of a Nation” aims to show visitors the precious collections of the whole country. The purpose is to clarify the Icelandic past by placing the cultural heritage preserved in the National Museum in a historical context: What is a country? Where do the Icelanders come from? How do they survive in such an environment? How does modern civilization affect this place? With such questions, we will have a better understanding of the country and enrich the journey.
** A free English speaking guide is available at 11:00 every Saturday, which takes approximately 45 minutes. You can also use the audio guide on the smartphone at the museum any time.
The National Museum of Iceland is a three-story building with a small, intimate restaurant and café. As soon as you walk into the museum, you will see a small sculpture, the most important and precious historical relic left by the Viking period. The exhibition hall on the first floor of the museum was brought to an atmosphere of “traveling through time and space”: the ships that settlers traveled across the ocean in the Middle Ages, all kinds of ancient cabins and furniture, which seemed to return to the past.
The permanent exhibition of the National Museum of Iceland consists of approximately 2,000 items, including not only Iceland's cultural heritage from early time to modern time, such as art and crafts, tools and furniture, archaeological remains, but also many religious-related exhibits. The exhibition is divided into four parts, the first part presents the work and lifestyle of people, detailing the resourcefulness and adaptability that Icelanders have since they settled in 870. The second part is to understand Iceland's settlement model. The third part focuses on art and crafts, and the last part explores the social culture and language of Iceland.
These exhibits showcase some of the jewelry and daily necessities used by Icelanders in ancient times, reflecting their superb skills. Such as fine-toothed combs, necklaces made of amber and dyed pebbles, and so on.
The exquisite carvings and exquisite patterns on these furnitures and felts give the impression of the perfect craftsmanship of the ancients. The wood material is very close to the natural beauty of nature. It can also be seen from the wooden boxes and the patterns on the tapestries in the picture, there are also some depictions of the daily life of the locals.
In general, fisheries are well developed in countries that are in the ocean or by the sea and Iceland is no exception. These boats, displayed in museums, show that fisheries are closely related to the lives of Icelanders. It is worth noting that the famous "First Cod War" in history is the confrontation of the Icelandic people against the British army in order to fight for the right to sea fishing. This has made Iceland the only country in the modern era to defeat the British Navy.
A long time ago, the first settlers in Iceland were more admired by the Nordic ancient Norse gods. For example, the famous—Þór or the god of sacrifice—blót. In 1000 AD, most Icelanders were officially converted to Christianity due to the influence of European culture. Today, Christians and pagans can live in harmony.
Iceland ruled from the early rule of the Christian chief to Norwegian rule, then to Danish rule, and finally became the sovereign state of the Republic of Iceland in 1944. One of the most memorable figures is the leader of the Icelandic independence movement of the 19th century, Jón Sigurðsson (June 17, 1811 - December 7, 1879). He was not only a famous writer, editor, but also a great politician. Although he has never been the president of Iceland, he is called "the father of Iceland." To commemorate his great contribution, people placed his birthday on June 17th for Iceland's National Day, and his avatar was also printed on the current version of the Icelandic 1000 krona banknote.
In the early 20th century, there were few artists in Iceland except writers. But in the first few decades of the new century, a generation of well-trained artists was born. The more representative works is the Ímynd—upphlutur ((image- national dress) created by the artists Ásdís Elva Pétursdóttir in 2000, inspired by Icelandic traditional national costume upphlutur. Transparent plastic texture, simple blue, dose is not reminiscent of pure white Iceland?
There is a lovely cafe and shop on the ground floor of the museum. The café offers light refreshments, quality coffee and a variety of Icelandic cuisine. If you are tired, you can take a rest here. The museum store has a variety of specially produced goods and handicrafts, as well as a variety of Icelandic language art and culture books.
Coffee opening hours: from Monday to Friday 9am-5pm, weekend 10am-5pm (May 1st to September 15th); from Tuesday to Friday 09:00-17:00, weekend 10:00-17:00, closed on Monday (September 16th to April 30th).
Store opening hours: Open during the museum’s opening hours.
For those who love culture and art, the city card that Reykjavik launched is a good choice. Not only can you visit many museums and art galleries in the city for free, but you can also access the major swimming pools and take the bus for free. In addition, you can enjoy discounts for many stores and restaurants. For details, please refer to the official website: https://visitreykjavik.is/city-card/front
In addition to the National Museum, there are other interesting museums in Reykjavik, such as the The Icelandic Punk Museum, Safnið við sjó inn— Vikin Maritime Museum and The Saga Museum showing Icelandic culture, you can visit these places if you have more time here.
Words and Photographs by Lexi Wang
Address: S uðurgata 41, 101 Reykjavík, Island
Transportation: Bus 1/3/6/14, Haskoli Island Station, Bus 11/12, ÞjóðminjasafniðSite
Opening hours: 10:00-17:00 (closed on Monday)
Tickets: 2000 EK for adults, 1000 EK for students and persons over 67 years old, free for children under 18 years old,
** The ticket for National Museum of Iceland or The Culture House (Safnahúsið) can be used interchangeably