It all started with Þórður Tómasson – when he was a child, he was a very keen collector of unused items. He had put in his mind that someday everything would change to newer and the technology would upgrade so he preserved things that were common in his time, things that were being thrown out. He collected items that were no longer of use and importance and other things he saw and he envisioned would be lost and forgotten, in order to preserve his nation’s heritage and history.
He went and traveled all around Iceland to collect information, stories and different items, from household things to farm and fishing equipment, chests, and other antique items made of wood, brass, silver or gold. He even got clothes and other priceless artifacts from the Viking Age. In 1949, he decided to open up a museum for his collections in the basement of a school. That was genius! As visitors were astonished by his collection and stories behind it, the museum grew and has been the largest museum in Iceland now with over 52,000 visitors in 2012. Skógar Museum is located at Hvolsvollur and is opened all year round.
His museum survived the mid 20th century crisis due to his perseverance in using what is there to use. Just like one of his display a fishing boat that was used in 1949. They used it for fishing in a very hazardous way in launching in the wild North Atlantic seas. Many died during this operation but the boat survives in the museum here it is preserved. There are so many items in the museum that acknowledges the resourcefulness of Icelanders. They had to make or repair their own things to be able to cope with the economy using whatever available and accessible for them to use.
Skogar museum – more than building with artifacts in it
Skogar Museum is far more than a built building with artifacts in it. Outside the folk museum itself is the sod farm. This is a collection of houses from different farms. It had been collected and transported to stand strongly near the folk museum which is part of the showcase. Another pride of the Skógar Museum is the Museum Church. Inside it are also Þórður Tómasson’s collections. The most important part of the museum is the Transport and Communication Museum. It was opened in 2002 and ever since it was the most visited place. This features the evolution of means of communication of the Icelanders during the 19th up to the 20th century. It has memorabilia from saddlery to cars to turbines to machines and travel gears. Indeed Skógar Museum is a one of a kind in Iceland and definitely a gem to the Icelanders.
Skogar Museum has captured history right there. It would be a pity to miss out on when visiting Iceland. It is informative and interesting just like going back where times were tough for Icelanders, and then fast forwarding and you are witnessing how they coped, survived and stood up again. Definitely worth the travel.
The Skógar Museum has various parts; The museum itself, a building that showcase a lot of artifacts, the sod farm and Skal farm, a collection of turf houses, the farm Grof, also an antique house from the 1840, the Magistrate’s House from 1878, the museum Church, where religious and other important artifacts are being stored, the old Schoolhouse from 1901, the smithy which was personally rebuilt by Þórður Tómasson in 1959, and the Communication Museum where it features the evolution of communication in Iceland.
After the long hours of going around the place where Þórður Tómasson put all his collections and masterpieces, you can have a break and enjoy a cup of coffee or various selections of Icelandic dishes from soups and cakes to sandwiches and meals at Café Skógar. Then make a last stop over at the Museum shop located in the museum of Transport and Communication where you can purchase a great selection of books and other souvenirs, all at a very reasonable prize. It is located on the south coast and you can e.g. go for the South Coast and Volcano show tour to see the museum.