A Visit to the National Museum of Iceland - The Reykjavik Grapevine

A Visit to the National Museum of Iceland

A Visit to the National Museum of Iceland

Published September 12, 2008

Iceland's storied Past

Photos by
GAS

Iceland's storied Past

For those who are interested in learning more about Iceland’s storied past, the National Museum of Iceland (Þjóðminjasafn Íslands), located at Suðurgata 41, offers a unique treasure-trove of historic exhibits.

The museum’s permanent showcase, The Making of a Nation, is an elaborate multimedia-enriched expedition into the country’s olden times, beginning from the origin of settlement to today. Walking through the darkly mood-lit space, you will learn how the ways of life in Iceland evolved from century to century; for example, the nation’s transition from paganism to Christianity. The Making of a Nation presents visitors with over 2,000 distinctive objects to observe. Some of the most interesting features of the exhibit include authentic Viking weapons (swords and shields), traditional religious artefacts and an actual old school vessel, Ingjaldur, which helped lay the smack down on British criminals fishing illegally in 1899. Each of the items on display typically features handy touch-screens that will help narrate their historical context.

The museum enthusiastically reaches out to kids with many hands-on exhibits, including some awesome, feel-able chain mail and a clever matching-switchboard that invites one to match up historic equivalents to contemporary things (i.e. olden-day footwear made of bones matched up to some modern-day kicks)

Also included at the museum are some noteworthy new acquisitions, including, charmingly, King Frederick the VIII of Denmark’s portable toilet, that he…er…used when he came to visit the country in 1907. In addition, a brand new feature near the entrance is Kristín Ragna Gunnarsdóttir’s imaginatively vivid, kooky illustrations from Örlög gudanna (“Destiny of the Gods”), a children’s book that creatively outlines Norse mythology.

Before departing, the Museum offers an enticing Kaffitar downstairs with mouth-wateringly delicious-looking cheesecake that will hit the spot after a long visit.


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