The photos were courtesy of the magic of the National Museum, who had at one time created a nice visual to accompany the history of the Christmas Lads. This is their forte: bringing ye olde Iceland to you. And so this tradition continues as the museum opens anew on the 1st of September.
It has been closed for 6 years, undergoing extensive renovations, and will now boast a walk-through exhibit that extensively covers Iceland’s 1200 years of civilised history, along with the thousands of historical objects in the museum’s collection.
It is unclear whether or not the museum was missed by the general public. Were people wandering around with no sense of cultural history, wondering “Vhere can I get my next hit of Wiking trivia?” Regardless, the last 6 years are in the past and Icelandic history is, once again, back for the people.
Among the many areas covered are the recent research on DNA taken from bones from the first centuries of settlements, “restored heathen graves” (which has a sort of Disneyland-Haunted-House vibe), and findings from a community that was buried in mount Hekla’s eruption in 1104. You can also see the 1703 census which documented the country’s population, the living conditions of each family, and, thankfully, a full count of livestock too.
The exhibition covers 2,000 square metres of space, and will be a permanent component of the museum, along with two spaces for varying exhibitions, a lecture hall, shop and café. Initially there were rumours of an enormous sword standing permanently outside the museum, but those plans are on hold for now.
The new permanent exhibition is described by the museum as “an exciting journey through time,” which is in the same ballpark as “an exciting afternoon at the farm”. I happen to love Icelandic farms, and find them terribly exciting places to visit. So, if traipsing through Icelandic history sounds like fun to you, then the National Museum is, as any good tourist rag would say, a must-see.
The admission is a brutish 600Kr, but there are half-off discounts for seniors, students, and the disabled. Visitors under 18 are given free admission.
(And if you’re just dying to see what my very first taste of Icelandic culture was, see the following: http://jol.ismennt.is/english/christmas-lads-museum.htm.)