Back in Reykjavik
We got off the gawd awful Norwegian Cruise ship a day early in Reykjavík, and didn’t waste any time getting ourselves back to having fun. After a quick ‘get ourselves together’ drink at Apotek, we wandered up Rainbow Street to go shopping and find some fish and chips! It’s time for more fun including Volcano’s, Museums, and Winding Down.
We also decided to see as many local museums over the next few days as we could. We visited a total of seven and really, most of them weren’t the best. But heck, we can say the only museum we know we missed was the Phallological Museum (aka the Penis Museum) and that was by design. While some people have said it is interesting, I just can’t see spending my day looking at penises. It is the largest museum of its kind in the world… I chalk it up to the quirky, fun, and creative personalities of Icelanders.
National Museum of Iceland
I have always liked the National Museum and still consider it the most interesting one. It’s an important stop for all newcomers visiting Iceland. I skip the skeletons on the floor though, as I think a) it is disrespectful to the human who had no choice in being displayed in this manner and b) I do not find it necessary to explain the history of Iceland or my Viking heritage.
Wood carving is intrinsic to Icelanders as far back as the Vikings. I always thought it was interesting that my great grandfather and my great great grandfather (who immigrated from Heimay to Utah) were wood carvers. It’s as though it came so naturally. My aunt and her twin sister each own a chair that was hand carved by my great great grandfather, Eirick Hansen, and he is known to have carved many beautiful pieces in the churches of Spanish Fork, Utah. He also made more practical, mundane objects such as coffins and pickle barrels.
These carved trunks date back to the 1600’s.
Door posts and bed boards are also intricately carved. The bed boards on the left were used in the communal living areas. They were placed on the bed to keep the bedding in place, but in the daytime, during meals, the boards were laid upon the persons lap and used as a table for meals. The oldest one dates to 1672.
Askur is a container, usually with carving on the top, that was used to put the food in and then the lid served as the plate. Pretty resourceful!
National Gallery of Iceland
The National Gallery of Iceland, Kjarvalsstadir, is named after a much loved artist, Johannes Kjarval (1885-1972). It was built to house his collection as well as provide a place for other art that would be thought provoking.
His art that was on display when we visited was ‘The Thought of Drawing’.
We were instructed to be careful in the ‘Glass rain’ display by Ruri or we could get cut. It wasn’t until we walked into the display that we fully understood the need for caution. With 500 razor-sharp glass fragments, hanging from a clear thread it is an odd feeling to carefully walk through the pathway inside.
Suffice to say this display would never be allowed in sue-happy California! It was weird walking through the chards of glass and I’m not sure it translated to the feeling of rain – I’d rather wait for a rainstorm and stand outside!
The watercolors of Autumn by Sigtryggur Bjarni Baldvinsson were very beautiful.
We also enjoyed the art of Gunnlauger Scheving
I wish there was more art on display! We enjoyed our time but felt that there had to be more, perhaps hiding in the basement?
Home of the Artist
Our ticket to the National Gallery of Iceland let us visit three museums at one price so we took advantage of that! The Home of the Artist, Asgrims Jonssonar, was very nice and an easy walk through neighborhoods from the National Gallery. Housed in his home that he bequeathed to Iceland as well as all of his works of art, it was, of the 3 museums, our favorite. He was the first person in Iceland to make a career from being an artist and spent several years travelling to Denmark, Italy and Germany, to name a few. His art was inspired by the French Impressionists as well since he focused primary on nature.
House of Collections
The last one of the trio was The House of Collections. I loved the building itself. From the outside, you might expect a plethora of artwork – but this is not the case. I was left wishing there was more Icelandic art on display.
There were colored transparent discs swinging in a room that on one side was my reflection and on the other is Barrett’s. Weird but fun.
Our favorite part of the House of Collections was discovered down in the coat/locker room. As you descend the stairs, these very cute drawings were hanging on the wall. Asgrimur Jonsson was the artist (who’s home we visited earlier in the day) and these drawings of elves, trolls, and ghosts capture the folklore of Icelandic stories.
Reykjavik City Museum
The exterior of the Reykjavik City Museum is quite unique. But again, after visiting the Reykjavik City Museum we were disappointed and pined, “Where is all the Icelandic art?”
If you want to go camping in style, you might try this dress tent that was on display in the Reykjavik City Museum. I do believe it is quite the girly girl tent!
Where is all the art?
Oh, it’s here in this gallery where Barrett bought a painting! Gallery Art67 on Laugavegur has some really nice pottery and oil paintings. www.art67.is/
And here! At the Reykjavik Fish Restaurant! on Frakkastigur 12. There’s more art in this little restaurant than any museum we visited!
We were so hungry we forgot a picture of the fish ‘n chips but it was the best version we had on our entire trip! It might look like a hole in the wall from the outside but it had really delicious food and the staff was very friendly.
In-between museums and shopping, we caught a taxi out to Reykjavik City airport for our helicopter ride over the erupting volcano. I was fortunate to have this experience in 2022 and loved it. Taking Barrett out to see the eruption which was close to the 2021 and 2022 eruptions was amazing. It was bigger than 2022 and we had a nice view though it was difficult to get good pictures.
You can see the smoke in the distance as we moved towards the eruption.
And then the fun began as our pilot, Gisli Gislason moved around the volcano so we all could see!
Whether there’s an eruption when you visit or you just want a helicopter tour, Reykjavik Helicopters offers city tours, volcano tours, and longer heli rides. You can visit them at https://www.reykjavikhelicopters.com/
Winding down our trip, we made one last stop to the Apotek lounge. Barrett tested out their creative smoking cocktails….. which matches his foodie style.