The museum was opened in 1949
and its first permanent building was built in 1954-55. It was enlarged
in 1989-1994 and now has an area of 600 m². The museum has been the
responsibility of one man, Thordur Tomasson (28/4 1921). He started
the collection of the artefacts and houses of the open-air museum and
has not stopped yet. In 2005 thirteen houses
were standing on the musum grounds. His great literary
achievements are mainly based on old traditons, sociology, demography,
museology and mythology. In 1997 he was deservedly awarded
honourary doctorate of the University of Iceland.
After having enjoyed the well-organized Folk
Museum, the visitors usually visit the sod farm to see how people lived
in the past. In the slopes behind it are more "modern"
dwellings from other parts of the district.
The pride of the
museum is the church, which was consecrated in 1998. It
depicts the most common church architecture of the past and
all its possessions belonged to older churches, which have
disappeared. It is safe to assert, that a tour of
Iceland is incomplete without visiting this museum.
Open daily June
to August 09:00-19:00. May and September 10: to 17:00 October to April
is a collection of houses from different farms in the area.
It is a beautiful combination of a three gabled farm connected
to the forth house to the east, a cross-constructed cow shed from the
farm Hus in the Holt County. It
has a heavy, flat stone over the door as was usual in the past.
The sod farm therefore not an exact replica of any specified
old farm. The westernmost
house is a black-tarred gable with three white painted windows.
Originally it is the guest quarters of the farm at Nordur-Gotur
of the Myrdalur Valley (1896). In
the middle is a so-called “Badstofa”, eating, sleeping and working
quarters of the people, at the farm Arnarholl in the Landeyjar County
(1895). It has one white painted window on a black-tarred gable,
which does not reach the ground.
Quite a few species of flowers decorate the stonewalls of this
part of the farm, among them roseroots, which were believed to protect
houses against fires. The
third house in the row is a tool shed.
In front of this romantic combination is an artificial well
with a winch from the farm Hvoll in the Myrdalur Valley (1896).
is situated behind the sod farm, which shows along with the other two
houses, the next era of the architectural development of the farms in
the southern part of the country. The gables are high with white painted corrugated iron, which
points to the early 20th century.
The Skal farm was the westernmost farm of the Sida County.
It is remarkable for its cow shed “Badstofa”, i.e. with the
cowshed underneath the sleeping-, eating- and working quarters.
It also contains a living room and a kitchen.
It was built in 1919-1920 and was occupied until 1970.
It was moved to Skogar in 1987 and rebuilt there during the
next few years.
The farm Grof
from the Skaftartunga County stands besides the Skal farm. It is a beautiful house with a black-tarred gable and white
painted windows. Originally
it was a shed of the farm, built around 1840, and is unusual for its
time because of the front is constructed of wood boards and the loft
is clincher roofed. Home-prepared
driftwood was used solely. At
Grof it sometimes was used as guest quarters.
Thorlakur, the farmer, who died of hypothermia on
Maelifellssandur in 1868, often invited his best guests to enjoy
refreshments there. The
shed serves its original purpose on the museum’s grounds.
The floor of the shed is dirt as was the custom in the past.
The Magistrate’s House
from Holt. Furthest up in
the slope is a totally different house.
It was the abode of the magistrate at Holt with black-tarred
walls, white painted windows and a red painted roof with a garret.
At the gables are man high stonewalls.
Arni Gislason, the magistrate of the district, built the house
in 1878. He resided at
Kirkjubaejarklaustur, but owned Holt and practiced farming there.
The house was built of driftwood on stone foundations.
It was the first wooden house of the district.
Its area is only 40 m square, but looks much larger.
It accommodated a family of 18 people in 9 beds.
A clinched “Badstofa” and the sleeping quarters of the lady
and master of the house were in the attic.
Downstairs was a kitchen, dining room and guest quarters.
Such houses probably were colder during winter than the sod
houses, because they are insulated with moss from the lava fields and
hay. The only heating was
the stove, which came much later.
The cooking was done in a separate house until after the turn
of the 19th century. Originally
the roof was covered with thin lava blocks.
They were replaced by corrugated iron close to the end of the
century. The house was occupied until 1974 and five years later,
Thordur had it disassembled and its restoration was finished in 1980
The house underwent a few changes
during the years. One of
its occupants increased the number of windows and in 1910, the
interior was panelled. During
the restoration at Skogar the original panelling, boards from the
masts of the hospital ship St. Pauli, which ran aground at the
estuaries of River Kudafljot in 1899, were reinstalled.
When the house stood at Holt it had a cellar made of stones,
but in Skogar it was made of concrete.
The wooden front of the house, made of broad, tarred boards,
was removed from the church at Kalfholt and dates back to 1879.
One of the kitchen
appliances, a simmer box for the pots after the food had been brought
to boiling, always attracts attention.
It was used mainly to save firewood.
The stove was brought from the farm Teigur in the Fljotshlid
County in 1910. The table
in the living room stood in the parsonage at Oddi and the mahogany
table in the guest quarters stood in the farm Skardshlid.
The sofa stood in the farm Bergthorshvoll and was made of
Museum Church, a short distance to the east, is small and plain and
depicts the ancient church architecture.
This is, however, a beautiful house as well as the remarkably
well-constructed wall around it.
All the artefacts of the church are a collection of old things
from other churches, but the exterior is new.
The interior decorations determined the size and shape of the
house, which is the same size as the last church at Skogar, which was
demolished in 1890. The
wooden and winged altarpiece is the church’s most precious
Sigurdur Jonsson acquired it for the church at Holt in 1768 and was
kept there until 1888, until it was moved to the church at
architect of the new church there (consecrated in 1954) did not
include it and it was stored in the steeple.
Two beautiful chalices from the churches at Steinar and the
former church at Skogar (1600) decorate the church.
Two bells are hanging in the belfry, one from Asar in the
Skaftartunga County (1742), and the other from the church at
Hofdabrekka in the Myrdalur County (1600). The latter was saved from the Katla eruption in 1660.
originally stood at Vatnsskardsholar in the
Myrdalur County (1901) and was moved to farm Hvammur in 1903.
In 1907 it was raised 50 cm and the windows were enlarged to
let more light in at the time TB raged in the country.
A similar schoolhouse still stands at farm Mulakot in the Sida
County (1907) and another one was moved from farm Deildara in the
Myrdalur County to the Hofdabrekka summer grazings to accommodate the
farmers when they round up the sheep late in summer.
was rebuilt by Tomas Thordarson from farm Vallnatun
(the father of curator Thordur Tomasson),
later living at farm Selkot, after he started farming at Skogar in
1959 and frequently used for forging and iron work.
The restoration of the exterior of the smithy was finished in
2002, and is the most recent addition to the sod house complex.
was opened on July 20th 2002.
It depicts the development of communications and technology
in Iceland during the 19th and 20th centuries. Its
main goal is to collect and exibit communication related
memoriabilia. It already exibits a wide range of
saddlery and harnesses, the first car and boat engines, old
cars, road construction machinery and vehicles, tools and
travel gear, old motorbikes, electrical equipment,
generators, turbines and other artefacts related to the
first attempts at harnessing streams for the production of
electricity. The history of postal services and radio
and telephone communications also plays an important role.