A continuous (and unsettling) loud rumbling sound and flickering yellow-orange light greet you as you approach the entrance to the Surtsey exhibition on the fourth floor of the Culture House in downtown Reykjavík. The projection of the lava flow and volcanic eruption that created Surtsey Island is the perfect introduction to the Surtsey – Genesis exhibition.
Representing Iceland’s southernmost tip, Surtsey emerged during the almost four year volcanic eruption which began in 1963. The force from the eruption was so strong that volcanic ash was ejected 9 km into the sky
The informative and fascinating exhibition, produced by the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, traces the emergence and evolution of the island as well as predicting its geographical and ecological development over the next 120 years.
What is unique about Surtsey as a volcanic site is that it has been under strict environmental protection since its beginning and has had its entire 44 year history carefully documented. The Icelandic Government has even nominated the island for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List and the exhibition explains the grounds for that decision.
Surtsey’s pristine conditions with limited influence from humans have served as a living laboratory for the ongoing research program. You’ll find a display of photos of the researchers in action in a separate exhibition space.
The display also includes detailed diagrams, aerial photos, slides, multimedia presentations, preserved animals, dried plants and volcanic lava which show the forces behind the creation of the island as well as the changes (both historic and predicted) in its size, shape and variety of animal life. The most interesting part of this exhibition is the interactive multimedia display which allows you to choose a time between 1963 and 2130 and see the state of the island in that select year.
The Culture House
Hverfisgata 15, 101 Reykjavík
Entrance fee: 300 ISK