Vikin Maritime Museum

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Reykjavik Maritime Museum
Sjóminjasafnið í Reykjavík
Established 2005
Location Reykjavík, Iceland
Type Maritime Museum
Website (English)

The Reykjavik Maritime Museum is a maritime museum located by the old harbour in the capital of Iceland, Reykjavík and run by Reykjavik City. The museum was established in 2005 and it is now one of five sites belonging to Reykjavik City Museum. There are seven exhibitions at the museum displaying Icelandic maritime history from the early settlements to the late 20th century. An important part of the museum is the Coast Guard and rescue vessel Óðinn (pronounced Othinn). In 2008, the ship was transformed into a museum exhibit about the cod wars in the 1950s and 1970s. The ship also tells about its own history. The museum focuses authentic atmosphere of Icelandic fisheries and on the history of fishing in Iceland but displays other temporary exhibitions related to the sea.


The plant remained operational until the 1990s, after which the building stood empty until the museum acquired and extensively renovated the structure. In 2002, Reykjavík City Council introduced and accepted to establish a Maritime Museum in Reykjavík. Until then not much focus had been on collecting maritime objects at the museums in Reykjavík. Vikin Maritime Museum was established in 2005 and opened in 2008


The museum opened in 2005, in a building built in 1947 as a fish freezing plant. It is built on a landfill called Grandi and housed, at the time, one of the best fish processing operations in Scandinavia. In 1959, BÚR (Reykjavik Municipal Fishing Company) bought the plant, which became one of the largest processors of redfish fillets. In 1985 the freezing plants operation was moved to another location and for most of the next 20 years, the building remained unused until the maritime museum opened. For the first three years the museum occupied the second floor only, before a closure for reconstruction during winter 2007-2008 made the first floor available too. In June 2008 the museum reopened, with four new exhibitions and a new entrance.[1] In 2009 the museum expanded with another new exhibition installed in a former storage area, and a museum café which opened in a space formerly rented by the museum. Víkin now has seven halls, with seven exhibitions ranging from photographic displays to full exhibits of 100-year-old boats, including the former Coast Guard vessel Óðinn, acquired by the museum in February 2008. The ship is secured to the pier next to the museum and has been made accessible for guests to visit in guided tours.[1][1]

Surroundings The Old Harbour is fast becoming a new boom area. Apart from it being a beautiful place to walk with stunning views across the bay to Mount Esja, the Harbour area is where the majority of marine activities, such as whale watching and puffin tours are concentrated. Now with the impressive addition of Harpa the city's award winning new concert hall a growing number of other interesting places and businesses like small coffee shops and restaurants are rising.i[2]


There are three permanent exhibitions in the museum: "The history of sailing"; "From poverty to abundance"; and "The Coast Guard Vessel Óðinn".[3]

The history of sailing This exhibition recounts Iceland's maritime history and the growth of Reykjavík Harbor which was a natural haven, with the inlet at Grandagarður being well sheltered for pulling boats safely ashore. For centuries, the Reykjavik harbor was one of the country’s main fisheries and trading centers, and over the years,it grew to become Iceland's largest port. As the 19th century progressed fishing greatly increased in Iceland, particularly in Reykjavík. The city’s first Harbor Committee was commissioned in 1855, but it was not until 1913 that the actual construction began and it was finished in 1917. The expansion of Reykjavík Harbor became the largest construction project ever undertaken in Iceland, a project that would solidify the capital’s dominance in the fisheries, commerce and seafaring. In December 2010 there were two temporary exhibitions: a painting exhibition featuring Bjarni Jónsson; and a photographic display covering the arctic convoys. Iceland experienced a social and economic transformation at the dawn of the 20th century, with the fisheries and other maritime activities playing a major role. Rowboats and sailing smacks made way for motorized vessels. In 1914, Eimskip the first Icelandic steamship company, was established. These changes were representative of Iceland's rebirth from centuries of poverty to a modern, mechanised society, and Reykjavík was at the center of these changes. The exhibition is partly displayed in one space which was the Reykjavík Municipal Fishing Company‘s fish-processing room. The high-ceiling room has a specially designed and constructed wooden pier that is 17 meters long and 5 meters wide. Seawater flows below the pier. The entrance is through the reconstructed deck of the steamship Gullfoss from 1915. The deck was reconstructed to give visitors the feel of being on board, and visitors actually become part of the exhibition: those on the pier experience visitors on Gullfoss’s deck as passengers. Along the wooden pier flows sea from the harbour and one can see the beautiful life in the seawater.[3]

From poverty to abundance From the time of Iceland's settlement, the fisheries have been vital for survival, and the fish a valuable export. The Maritime Museum’s permanent exhibition portrays the Icelandic fisheries at the turn of the 20th century, and realistically depicts the lives of Icelandic fishermen. In the late 19th century, fishing the coastal waters in rowboats was the most common method of commercial fishing. On display is Farsæll, a four- person rowboat built around 1900. For a long time, dried fish was the main export, but as the 19th century progressed, salted cod became an evermore important commodity. As the century drew to a close, exports of salted cod had quadrupled while its value had grown sixfold. This was result of increasing demand from Spain, technological advances, bigger fish markets and inexpensive, quality salt imported from Spain. As the industrial revolution developed Rowboats began disappearing from Icelandic waters and larger vessels such as decked boats and cutters, which could go further out to sea and fish larger hauls, were becoming more common. This created more work on land processing fish and servicing ships. The history of Iceland's fishery in the 20th century is full of technological advance and new methods of working. In 1907 one of Iceland's most famous trawlers of the time, Jón forseti, was specially built for Iceland. In the following years, the fleet grew rapidly. The Municipal Fishing Company is also an important part of the museum’s exhibition – from 1947 until 1991, the company operated in the same building as the museum.[4]

The Vessel Óðinn The Coast Guard Vessel Óðinn is one of the Maritime Museum’s main exhibitions. Óðinn was built in Aalborg, Denmark in 1959. It has a displacement of 910 tons, a length of 63 m, a beam of 10 m and a specially reinforced bow and hull for sailing through ice. Óðinn proved a particularly good rescue vessel and it patrolled Iceland's territorial fishing grounds, monitoring both Icelandic and foreign vessels. This involved determining who was fishing and where, and the type of fishing equipment being used. Óðinn took for example part in the three Cod Wars where the most effective and famous weapon was the trawl warp cutter, which is displayed on the afterdeck. The vessel was also often called on for assistance when weather conditions made transportation on land extremely difficult, particularly in remote communities.i[5]

Opening hours, facilities and management[edit]

Admission Museum: 1.400 ISK Guided tour of Coastal Vessel Odinn: 1.200 ISK Museum and guided tour of Coastal Vessel Odinn: 1.900 ISK Free: Children under 18, senior citizens (+70) and with disabilities. For further information

Opening hours

The museum is open daily from 10:00 to 17:00 (10 am - 5 pm)

Accessibility Main entrance: On the eastern and western side, no doorstep, sliding doors that open automatically. The parking places :By the western entrance on Grandagarður. The disabled: Special parking place, wide doors and a lift

Education The museum has a programme for children. In addition to the exhibitions, which appeal to children as well as adults, the Costal Vessel Óðinn is great fun for children to explore. Then there is the rowboat Sæfari, where kids can dress up as traditional fishermen. The museum houses a gift shop with the same opening hours as the museum, and the Víkin Café, serving refreshments and alcoholic drinks. The museum is within a short walking distance of the center and is also served by public bus #14.[6]

Museum Cafe and Museum Shop The Museum’s Café has a great view over the harbor. Outside the café is a large pier where guests can sit and enjoy harbor activity. The Museum Café offers a wide range of traditional Icelandic refreshments, light meals and fresh fish dishes for lunch.

At the museum there is a souvenir shop where many interesting items can be found . Souvenirs, ideal present, toys and books both. Museum Cafe and the Museum Shop have the same opening hours as the Museum.

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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 64°09′11″N 21°56′57″W / 64.1531°N 21.9493°W / 64.1531; -21.9493