In the Saga Museum in Perlan it all starts at the
very basic beginning; it begins with the land,
with lava and with rocks. With a very fancy
mp3 player and headphones in my ears, I am
being prepared for a thirty-minute overview of
Iceland’s story. The whole thing, or up through
the Sagas at least. Starting with the lava.
The museum tackles seventeen points of interest
about Icelandic history, spanning religion,
commerce, trade, war, illness and more. The
exhibit highlights important historical figures,
such as literary, religious, and war heroes, as
well as tackling economic, cultural and political
phenomenon, such as the once popular swamp
iron smelting, and the creation of Alþingi,
Iceland’s first government.
The figures used in the museum are silicone
casts of real models, chosen for their supposed
likeness to the historical figures which otherwise
have no physical depiction on historical
record. The process was developed by Ernst
Backman and creates an amazingly alive representation
of figures long, long dead.
The museum also talks at length about
the origin of Icelanders and especially of the
first Icelandic women settlers, most of whom
were of Celtic origin, kidnapped from Ireland
of the mostly Nordic Vikings. Other important
stories that are lodged in the conscious of every
Icelander – such as that of Egill Skallagrímsson,
the most famous, and violent, poet of the
Saga age – are brought to life with startling
The exhibit is surely as enthusing a visit
for Icelanders as it is for visitors discovering
Iceland’s sagas for the first time. VÞ
Perlan, Öskjuhlíð, 105 Reykjavík, www.sagamuseum.
Open daily from 10-18 through September,
1000 ISK for adults
CD available in Icelandic, English, German,
French, and Swedish
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