Museums Tour (Self Guided), Reykjavik

Reykjavik, a city of Viking heritage, offers a great variety of museums where you can see the artifacts that remain from the time of the Vikings. This self-guided tour will lead you through the most interesting museums of Reykjavik, revealing the rich Icelandic culture:
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Museums Tour Map

Guide Name: Museums Tour
Guide Location: Iceland » Reykjavik (See other walking tours in Reykjavik)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Reykjavik Maritime Museum of Vikin
  • Reykjavík Art Museum
  • National Centre for Cultural Heritage
  • National Gallery of Iceland
  • National Museum of Iceland
  • Arni Magnusson Institute
Reykjavik Maritime Museum of Vikin

1) Reykjavik Maritime Museum of Vikin (must see)

Iceland's history and culture have been deeply influenced by the sea. Fishing and fish processing remains a vital component of the island's economy and is the main focus of the Maritime Museum of Vikin (the name 'Vikin' indicates the cove where the museum is located). There's a lot to see here, including a fascinating exhibit on the three "Cod Wars" fought with the United Kingdom over fishing rights in the North Atlantic. Coast Guard ships like the ICGV Óðinn (which you can tour at the museum) dragged heavy net cutters to sever the lines of British trawlers. Iceland eventually won the dispute and was granted a 200 nautical mile exclusive fishing zone.

The museum also houses a gift shop with the same opening hours as the museum, and the Bryggjan Café, serving refreshments and alcoholic drinks.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm

Óðinn Coast Guard Vessel Guarded Tours:
Daily: 11am, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm (worth taking one!)
Sight description based on wikipedia
Reykjavík Art Museum

2) Reykjavík Art Museum (must see)

Founded in 1973, Reykjavik Art Museum is the largest visual art institution in Iceland. It possesses the largest art collection in Iceland and the most voluminous gallery space to be found amongst the country's galleries. In more than 3000 square meters of gallery space over twenty exhibitions are run every year, ranging from extensive exhibitions from the museum‘s collection to installations of contemporary art by young, international artists.

The Museum offers a variety of events all year round where art is closely examined from different angles and with different emphasis. Extensive family programmes, as well as guided tours for students of all levels, are cultivated. In addition, the museum takes an active part in ambitious cooperative projects and festivals in the field of music, film, design, dance, drama, and literature.

The Museum is in charge of the city‘s art collection while Reykjavik city is responsible for the management and financing of the museum. Reykjavik Art Museum consists of five separate art properties: a general art collection of Reykjavik city (including outdoor works in Reykjavik), an Erró collection, a Kjarval collection, the Ásmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum and a collection of the architecture department.

The museum is situated at three different locations in the city: the Kjarvalsstaðir exhibition hall at Miklatún, where the main emphasis is on paintings and sculpture by well-established artists; Hafnarhús, located in downtown Reykjavik, which serves as the museums institute of contemporary art, where new developments in art are explored; and the Museum and Park at Sigtún, which is dedicated to the work of the sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson.

Opening Hours:
[Hafnarhús] Fri-Wed: 10am–5pm; Thu: 10am–10pm
[Kjarvalsstaðir] Daily: 10am–5pm
[Ásmundarsafn] Daily: 10am–5pm (May–Sep); 1–5pm (Oct-Apr)
Sight description based on wikipedia
National Centre for Cultural Heritage

3) National Centre for Cultural Heritage (must see)

The National Centre for Cultural Heritage is located in the Culture House. The building is very beautiful and is a historic monument of Reykjavik. There are numerous exhibitions in the Centre, including national treasures and artifacts from the time of the Vikings. Most of the art exhibitions are held in the Culture Shop and Café. The Centre also holds a large exhibition of Icelandic films. Many of the Centre's temporary exhibitions display original artifacts and photographs.

Why You Should Visit:
To see Iceland not from an academic historical and distant point of view but that of Icelandic people themselves: scientists, artists, children, citizens, from past & present.

Free with your National Museum ticket or the Reykjavik City Card; there are free lockers; set aside 1.5-2.5 hours here.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
National Gallery of Iceland

4) National Gallery of Iceland (must see)

The National Gallery of Iceland features the artwork of famous Icelandic artists and artwork that helps explain the traditional Icelandic culture. Among the highlights is the 'Making of a Nation – Heritage and History in Iceland' exhibition presented in the main galleries on the 2nd and 3d floors. Here the past meets the future as you explore how Iceland, its culture and society, developed from the early settlers in the late 9th century up to the modern days. The exhibition contains about 2,000 artifacts from all periods of Icelandic history as well as numerous well-selected photographs from the 20th century. Various forms of multimedia are used to educate and inspire as you may choose to either walk through time or follow special and well-marked themes through the exhibition.

There is a shop at the gallery, where you can buy art books, cards and other souvenirs representing the art of Iceland.

Why You Should Visit:
Over 200 years of Iceland-inspired art with great names like Münch and Vasarely and also more local artists. The museum building itself is a work of art.

The entry fee comes with tickets for the two companion museums; ask the staff to indicate where those are on your map. Also, ask if you can take photographs – sometimes you can.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm (May-Sep); Tue-Sun: 10am-5pm (Oct-Apr)
Sight description based on wikipedia
National Museum of Iceland

5) National Museum of Iceland (must see)

This National Museum of Iceland covers Iceland's entire history, right up to the present day, in a fun and visual fashion. There are Viking weapons, sailing vessels, clothes, religious artifacts, even a recreated Icelandic house. The collection of modern items includes a copy of Bjork's very first album, recorded when she was only 11 years old. You may enjoy the costume room as well, where one can try on outfits from different periods of Icelandic history. Café Kaffitár is located on the ground floor and offers coffee, refreshments and Icelandic treats.

Free entry included with Reykjavik City Card; there are free lockers; set aside 1.5-2.5 hours here.
There are free guided tours at 11am each Saturday, and it is recommended that you join one of these tours to gain a better understanding.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm (May 1–Sep 15); Tue-Sun: 10am-5pm (Sep 16–Apr 30)
Sight description based on wikipedia
Arni Magnusson Institute

6) Arni Magnusson Institute

The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies (Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum) is an institute of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Iceland which conducts research in Icelandic and related academic studies, in particular the Icelandic language and Icelandic literature, to disseminate knowledge in those areas, and to protect and develop the collections that it possesses or those placed in its care. It is named after Árni Magnússon, a 17th-18th century collector of medieval Icelandic manuscripts.

The institute had the task of preserving and studying medieval Icelandic manuscripts containing Landnáma, Heimskringla and the Icelandic sagas. On September 1, 2006, this institute was merged with the Icelandic Language Institute, the University of Iceland Institute of Lexicography, the Sigurður Nordal Institute, and the Place-Name Institute of Iceland to create the current Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies. It is a university institution with its own board and financing. The Minister of Education, Science and Culture appoints a five-member board for four-year terms. Three members are appointed according to nomination by the University Senate and two without nomination, with one of those two acting as chairman. The Minister appoints a director for five-year terms on the recommendation of the board.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Reykjavik, Iceland

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Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 Km or 3.4 Miles
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Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.8 Km or 3.6 Miles