Choosing that perfect souvenir to send home can be difficult when stores sell pretty much the same the world ‘round. You’ve probably often wondered how designers can be so unimaginative. One place that stands out from the rest is the store inside the National Museum of Iceland. This place, which is worth a visit in itself, stocks various specially produced goods and handicrafts, along with an extensive selection of books, toys and clothing.
The shop also features a variety of pieces by local Icelandic designers, including graduates from the Icelandic Academy of the Arts. Heiða Björk Árnadóttir, a staff member at the shop, says that they invite students from the art school to visit the museum’s permanent exhibition The Making of the Nation, in the hope that they will be inspired to create new products that they can then carry in their store.
And you certainly can’t complain about the lack of diversity – you’ll find everything from handmade wooden puzzles for children to jewellery to reproductions of old maps of Iceland and replicas of old toys. There are picture books by Icelandic illustrators, and an “environmentally friendly and dishwasher-safe spoon” consisting of a clam shell. Apparently, clam shells have been found in graves and burial mounds of Icelanders and were once used as a cooking and eating utensil.
The store’s strict criteria for selecting new items to be stocked are what sets this place apart from the generic souvenir shop. “The product has to be well designed, related to the museum and Iceland, and be of good quality,” Árnadóttir says. Some of the products made by students include the “Viking chess” game, a children’s colouring book, and the “bearded hat” – a funky balaclava-like hat.
National Museum of Iceland, Suðurgata 41, 101 Reykjavík.
Open 10:00–17:00 everyday.
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