Nautical and Awesome
We made the special trip to this museum because I saw an advertisement for the museum with a boat inside. I wanted to see the boat. The drive was only a few hours as we stopped a lot to look at waterfalls and rocks and churches, but upon our arrival we were able to quickly get through the wind between our car and the shelter of the first museum. There is a small admission fee and when we saw the amount of items on display we think we got a pretty excellent deal. It was like visiting a tiny Smithsonian - not small in the number of items, but small in the amount of area that they fit everything in. In 2011 the museum had to close to clean all the items because volcanic dust got on the displays, and I can imagine how many hours it would take to attend to all the items. The concept is overwhelming.
The boat was right near the entrance. It was awesome. You could look up inside and walk around it and the edges of the walkway were covered with nautical treasures such as diaries, bottles, ship equipment, photos, and other beautiful items. We started at this room, returned to this room, left the museum to go to Sólheimajökull Glacier and Seljalandsfoss to see the rock formations, and came back to the museum for one more look-see before we headed back to Harfnafjordur.
I especially liked the many examples of what are traditionally considered items women made such as wool, wall hangings and practical elements like chairs and clothing with different styles of stitch work. What also impressed me was the collections of plates and china that had beautiful flowers painted on them. Inside the turf roof houses which could seem a bit dark, it looked like when people put items in it for practical use or decorative purposes they used bright and happy colors. We also enjoyed the painted cabinetry and furniture which also used a multitude of color and often had floral designs as well. Growing up we had built in cabinets that my mother painted in a similar style. Visiting the museum brought me back to nice memories in my own life.
There was also a lot of metal work in the museum. Equestrian items demonstrated an artistry for items that people needed for everyday life. The horses in Iceland are still a prominent part of life today. The final rooms took us to something that felt a little like a basement because it had so many items in rows and corners and cabinets. There was some pretty interesting things down there as well as some pretty strange stuff. Taxidermy is also part of the historical culture and items of that nature can be seen at this museum. The only two times we saw a puffin during our September visit was in a cabinet at a museum.
The Folk Museum and Beyond
Outside of the main building there are other structures including a school house, two turf roof houses: Skógarbær and Skálarbærinn, and a Transportation museum. Everything was really interesting and the Transportation museum had a long maze of displays and every time we turned a corner there would be more things. There were a lot of vehicles and a camp setting as well as older refrigerators and radios.
The museum is situated between the ocean and a glacier in a green strip of land. The place is striking and worth the stop, even if you only stop for an hour. We have a map on our Southern Iceland Drive page that helps give an idea of whre the museum is located.
A museum cafe and gift shop are located in a building with the Transportation museum, and although we were there a little late for lunch and a little late in the season, the woman working at the kitchen heated up the cook ware to make me waffles. She was very kind and the waffles were very delicious. Bill had a fish stew that the other workers were having for lunch so we figured that was positive advertizing. We recommend this museum if you ever drive through Southern Iceland.