When the first settlers arrived in Iceland, they realized that it had a great potential for a successful fishing industry. Ingólfur Arnarson – the very first settler of Iceland – founded the city now known as Reykjavik – the capital of Iceland – to be his home and he quickly understood that Reykjavik is particularly good spot since it encompasses all the necessary factors for pulling the boats safely ashore.
The shores of Reykjavik then were turned into a natural harbor and so, the boost of fisheries and trading in Iceland started making it one of the main industries in the country. The industry only grew from then on and Iceland bloomed both economically, socially and culturally.
Knowing all that, it is no wonder that fishing industry not only plays important part in the history and present of Iceland, but also in some sense even defines what Iceland and ‘Icelandic’ is about.
To gain some more knowledge on this, spare some time to visit Reykjavik Maritime Museum.
There are three permanent exhibitions:
– History of Sailing gives a solid insight into Iceland’s maritime history and development of Reykjavik Harbor. The whole story – starting from the first settlers up until modern days – is displayed and told. What is particularly nice about this exhibition is that part of it is displayed in Bryggjusalurinn – a former fish processing room of the Reykjavík Municipal Fishing Company.
– From Poverty to Abundance leads us through the lives of Icelandic fisherman in the turn on 20th century. This exhibition explains the living and working conditions of those working for the Icelandic fishing industry and as you can already imagine, the conditions were very rough in the beginning. In fact, even though the technological development has made some aspects of their work easier, it still is a tough job to do. This exhibition also contains the display of Farsæll – an original four-person rowboat that was made around 1900 in the Westman Islands.
– The Coast Guard Vessel Óðinn built in 1959. The visitors are allowed to walk through the vessel and get to know its functions and conditions for those operating it. This exhibition is particularly interesting for children who perhaps are not so interested in pictures and regular displays but actually seeing and imagining they were there. However, keep in mind that the ship is old and designed for duties at the sea and hence, keep your children attended for them to be safe on the board of Óðinn.
Reykjavik Maritime Museum can be easily reached as it is located very close to mid-town. There is a public bus stop for bus no. 14, which stops right next to the museum.