The Reykjavík Museum of Photography has recently launched a new website that allows you to view some of its specimens without having to forsake the comfort of your home and the warm glow of your computer screen. The website offers a free virtual getaway through Iceland’s past and present, storing some twenty thousand pictures in eighty different picture albums.
The albums showcase various themes, photographers, regions and eras. Although the collection is not yet organized in the most English-language-user-friendly way, it is nonetheless easy to browse through the many photos, which depict scenes of life in Iceland over the past hundred years or so, from special ceremonies to everyday events. Familiar subjects include presidents, school-children, farmers, fishermen and harbour workers, for the most part captured in their respective habitats.
The collection also contains a rare and early example of family holiday photography from the beginning of the 20th century. In 1910, a relatively well-to-do French speaking family travelled by ship from Bremen, Germany to Iceland for what appears to have been a leisure tour. The family stayed at the Hotel Alexandra on Hafnarstræti and took pictures in both Reykjavík and the surrounding countryside. The family evidently had a particular interest in the daily lives and customs of Icelanders as they photographed gatherings such as laundry day (Laugardagur = Saturday), wherein a group, made up largely of women, huddle around a hot spring that has been converted into an early form of the washing machine.
Another picture shows a group of women dancing in a field near Mount Esja.
The website contains pictures from various sources including the
newspapers Vísir and Þjóðviljinn and photographers such as Magnús
Ólafsson, Pétur Thomsen, Sigurhans Vignir, Sveinn Þormóðsson and Pétur
Þorsteinsson. Access to the website is free and open to everybody. To begin your journey, click here.
- The Reykjavík Museum of Photography Website