Located only metres from the old harbour, the Reykjavík Maritime Museum might seem uninteresting on the outside. On the inside, however, an impressive collection of unique fishery related showpieces will grab all your attention and damn-near refuse to let go. The building, which used to house the once leading fishing company Bæjarútgerð Reykjavíkur (BÚR), is true to its former inhabitants and today accommodates the only museum in the country that chronicles the many diverse aspects of maritime life in Reykjavík. Not to mention the tremendous influence the advent of trawlers had on Icelanders and Iceland’s economy in the 20th century.
Established in 2005, the museum presents two exhibitions: Trawlers in 100 years and BÚR, which together provide a good insight into the way Icelandic society transformed with the trawler operation. It also explains, with the use of photographs, a video and numerous historical items connected with fisheries, how Reykjavík became a buzzing fishing town.
The trawler’s exhibition, set to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the first trawler owned by Icelanders, features for example models of stern trawlers, old engines and helms and a rowboat from 1907. Visitors can have a look at a typical 1940’s fisherman’s home and then learn about the heroic ‘Cod Wars,’ to name but a few of the attractions.
The BÚR exhibition honours the 60th anniversary of the establishment of BÚR and displays fish-processing machines, a table used for gutting fish and shows the way saltfish was air-dried back in the day.
This fall, the surrounding harbour area will get a complete makeover and the museum will gain a much larger exhibition space. Until then, the trawlers and the story they have to tell are a good way to start understanding the development of Reykjavík’s society.
Reykjavík Maritime Museum