The Culture house "Þjóðmenningarhúsið" 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, ment 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.
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 photograps 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.
Free admission on Wednesdays.
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 :(
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.