Þjóðmenningarhúsið - The Culture house., Reykjavík
Here is my previous tip on the history of the Culture House, or Safnahúsið as it has been renamed the Culture House.
The Culture House reopened in April 2015. It no longer has the old manuscripts on display, but new exhibitions, which are really worth visiting. They are called "Points of view".
The new exhibitions are in collaboration with the 5 museums, which used to be housed at the Culture house, plus Listasafn Íslands or the National Gallery of Iceland.
The museum has got 7 wings. On the ground floor is a café and the exhibition "Up", referring to us looking up to authority, be it ecclesiastical or secular. There on display are old objects from various churches in Iceland.
There is an exhibition on the top floor, which is the focal point of the museum, the connection with man and his environment. It is called "Down" with beautiful paintings of Reykjavík. One is urged to look out of the windows to look at the view of Reykjavík from above. There are many interesting paintings and photographs in this exhibition.
There are other exhibitions called "In", "Out", "Again and again", "From the cradle to the grave" and "Mirror", all very good exhibitions.
There are educational corners for children where they can play
I have written a tip on one of our elf-stories from the Folklore of Jón Árnason, Sýslumannskonan á Bustarfelli. I had wanted to visit our National Museum for the longest time to see the original cloth given by an elf-lady to a human lady, but hadn´t been able to do so as the winter of 2014-2015 was the worst in decades. But I found it at Safnahúsið and was absolutely thrilled to see it!
There are so many things to see and explore at this museum that I highly recommend a visit there.
This is a tip on the former exhibitions of the Culture House, which reopened in April 2015. Here is my new tip. But do read on for the rich history of this wonderful building.
The Culture house "Safnahúsið" was opened in Reykjavík in 1909. It is such a beautiful white building situated next to The National Theater, designed by a Danish architect Johannes Magdahl Nielsen.
Our first minister of Icelandic affairs under Home rule (we were a Danish colony), Hannes Hafstein, meant for this house to be a National Library and to house the National archives. It so turned out that The National Museum and The National History museum were also housed there - so one can imagine how important this building was back then and how many Icelandic treasures it housed. These museums moved out to other locations, but the National Museum was located here for a long time in the attic or from 1908-1950 until it moved to its current location.
Now the Culture house - true to its name - has permanent exhibitions on cultural and historical events. I took so many photos last time I visited and I would like to make tips out of every room in the house. It is on 4 floors with many different rooms with different things on display. One room has lots of old books and documents which are important to Icelandic culture and history.
On one floor there are big photographs of Icelandic farmers. On the 4th floor you enter "Þjóðminjasafnið" which has on display Icelandic film history from beginning to this year, very interesting. On the ground floor there is a room with the old Icelandic manuscripts and the oldest books of great importance to Iceland. It is an amazing room, like you are entering another world of Vikings and their history. I so want to make tips on all these rooms, but that would maybe be too much, eh ;)
I used to do my homework there from time to time while attending to Verslunarskólinn college, which was then situated down-town, but has now moved next to Kringlan shopping-center.
Unfortunately, due to lack of funding, the old Icelandic manuscripts are no longer on display here as there is not enough money to pay the salary of a security guard to guard the manuscripts :( From February 2015 the manuscripts have been on display at the Reykjavík 871 +/-2 Settlement museum
In April 2015 a new exhibition was opened at the Cultural house on visual cultural heritage. I have made another tip on the reopening of the Cultural house.
I quite like it in Icelandic - Þjóðmenningarhúsið
The Culture House is Iceland's national centre for it's cultrural heritage. It's construction started in 1906, and it actually opened it's doors to the public in 1909; so as I visted it in 2009 we can congratulate it on it's 100 year anniversary. The building was the first official building constructed on home rule initiative. The architect was Danish, Magdahl Nielsen, and the style chosen is seen elsewhere in Westerne Europe but not anywhere else in Iceland.
I enjoyed the whole experience especially the Medieval Manuscripts Exhibition; this spotlights both Eddas and Sagas through the ages. There is also a natural history museum, so a little different experience.
There is both a Culture shop and cafe - and you have an opportunity to book space for meetings and events too.
The House is open daily between 11.00 and 17.00, they do charge, but if you visit on a Wednesday, admission is free.
This is one of those things you do when you've been in a town a few days and you've pretty much hit the highlights. If you're time is more limited, I'd definitely recommend visiting the National Musem first and then coming here if you're interested in the history and culture of Iceland. The Culture House is an historically listed building and makes for a nice setting to house this exhibit, but the exhibit itself is a bit underwhelming. The focus is on historical documents (old texts, etc). There is a cool exhibit there now called the Road to Zion which tells the story of a group of Icelanders that emigrated to Utah in the United States and joined the Mormon Church.
While the Culture House has many permanent exhibits and events (including an exhibit on the first Icelandic settlers in America), we were only able to spend a short period looking at the medieval manuscripts, an exhibit which brings together some of the most celebrated of Icelandic literary treasures, including collections of poetry and sagas from the middle ages, all on fragile vellum, and many with wonderful decorative work.
There are also exhibits which explain the process by which the manuscripts were prepared, as well as information on the literary golden age; anyone who has visited and enjoyed Ireland's Book of Kells will find this exhibit fascinating.
The Cultural house houses a collection of original copies of medieval manuscripts and displays about them. This collection also include many of the earlist known copies of the Icelandic sagas.
This small city park next to the Cultural House features a statute of Ingolfur Arnarson, the first settler of Reyjavik.