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The Akureyri Museum's buildings and garden are covered in snow during winter months.

The Akureyri Museum celebrates the rich history, cultural heritage, arts, and traditions of North Iceland. It's located in multiple buildings in Akureyri and features diverse exhibitions dedicated to various topics.

The Akureyri Museum is a regional cultural and heritage museum located in Akureyri, the "Capital of North Iceland." It's locally known as "Minjasafnið á Akureyri," and it's one of the Best Museums in Iceland!

It features various exhibitions in multiple buildings, including the historic Nonni’s House and the Akureyri Toy Museum, which are housed in a vast garden with birch trees in the oldest part of the town. The Akureyri Museum’s extensive exhibitions provide an insight into the town and the region’s historical and cultural identities. It offers unique displays and artifacts that cater to a broad spectrum of interests.

The town center is just a 25-minute walk from the Akureyri Museum and within easy reach of many Akureyri hotels. You can also stop by during self-drive tours with a rental car, like this one-week road trip in North Iceland.

Photo above from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Dagvidur.

What is the Akureyri Museum?

Get a glimpse into Akureyri's history at the Akureyri Museum

Photo from James Petts

The Akureyri Museum originally opened in 1963 and is a must visit cultural attraction in the region. It primarily showcases the heritage of North Iceland, specifically the settlements nestling on the shores of the Eyjafjordur fjord, the longest fjord in Iceland, stretching for 47 miles (70 kilometers)!

Inside the main building of the Akureyri Museum, visitors can find a collection of historical artifacts and multimedia displays that offer a tangible connection to the past. These artifacts include everyday objects, business items, sculptures, fishing tools, photographs, and relics from different periods, allowing you to explore the history of northern Iceland in an immersive way.

Beyond being a repository of historical and artistic treasures, the Akureyri Museum is a dynamic cultural space. It hosts various events annually, including lectures and temporary exhibitions, in support of the local community. This engagement adds to the museum's draw as a place of exploration and enrichment.

Main Exhibitions of the Akureyri Museum

A display of old artifacts in the Akureyri Museum.

Photo from Flickr, Creative Commons, by James Petts. No edits made.

The Akureyri Museum has many exhibitions and heritage sites in town. This includes the Nonni’s House and Davidshus. These cultural attractions are located within the same area and are managed by the town of Akureyri with contributions from five other nearby municipalities.

However, the actual Akureyri Museum sits on Kirkjuhvoll, a renovated building from 1934. Kirkjuhvoll and its adjacent buildings comprise the Akureyri Museum and its thousands of artifacts.

Akureyri - the Town by the Bay

The permanent exhibition of the Akureyri Museum is called “Akureyri, the Town by the Bay.” It provides a comprehensive overview of Akureyri's history, from its beginnings as a trading post to its evolution into the vibrant "Capital of the North." Visitors can explore the town's maritime heritage, highlighting the importance of fishing and seafaring in the community's growth.

Inside the museum building, visitors will find many photographs and artifacts from the Viking era, but mainly from the 19th century to modern times. The items are labeled in Icelandic and English, so even international visitors will have no problem learning about the history of Akureyri and the Eyjafjordur settlements.

Schulte Collection of Maps

Another exhibition in the Akureyri Museum is the Schulte Collection of Icelandic Maps. It showcases a remarkable assortment of 174 maps and offers a fascinating journey through the cartography of the land of fire and ice from 1547 to 1808.

Each map in the Schulte Collection tells its own story, reflecting the cultural, political, and technological context of its time. Visitors can explore maps that date back centuries, showcasing different mapping techniques, artistic styles, and geopolitical boundaries.

The collection showcases varied maps of Iceland, some of which include its neighboring islands, Scandinavia, and the surrounding North Atlantic Ocean.

Akureyri, a Musical Town (Temporary Exhibition)

The Akureyri Museum holds temporary exhibitions that are displayed for a few months or a few years. One of these is "Akureyri - a Musical town" that displays the town’s musical heritage!

The exhibition celebrates the diversity and vibrancy of the town's musical scene, from traditional Icelandic folk music to contemporary pop and rock. Through various displays, artifacts, old instruments, posters, photographs, and interactive elements, this exhibition sheds light on the significant role that music has played in shaping the cultural identity of Akureyri.

Akureyri Museum Church

The Akureyri Museum church is located in a lush garden.

Photo from Flickr, Creative Commons, by David Kirsch. No edits made.

The Akureyri Museum Church, locally known as "Minjasafnskirkjan á Akureyri," is the biggest and perhaps most prominent artifact of the North Iceland museum. This wooden church, relocated and preserved within the museum's garden, is an important part of the region's spiritual heritage.

The church was originally built in 1846 in the village of Svalbardseyri along the Eyjafjordur fjord. In the 1970s, the structure was transferred and repaired on the museum grounds. Today, the church remains operational for special masses a few times a year and can be rented for events and concerts.

Other Exhibitions of the Akureyri Museum in North Iceland

What makes the Akureyri Museum in Iceland special is that it encompasses several other museums and heritage sites within its network, each offering unique insights into different aspects of the region's history and culture. 

These attractions are all located within the museum garden or its vicinity, except for the Laufas Heritage Site across the Eyjafjordur fjord.

Nonni's House

Nonni's House is one of the oldest houses in Akureyri.

Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Bromr. No edits made.

Nonni's House, or "Nonnahús" in Icelandic, is a small museum dedicated to the renowned Icelandic author and priest Jon Sveinsson, commonly known as Nonni. He's celebrated for his contributions to children's literature, drawing from his own childhood to craft engaging and heartwarming stories featuring himself as a child, and his little brother, Manni.

The museum offers visitors a glimpse into Nonni's life and literary contributions through personal belongings, manuscripts, and exhibits celebrating his legacy.

Akureyri Toy Museum

The Akureyri Toy Museum is a playful exploration of childhood nostalgia. It features dozens of dolls, toy cars, board games, and action figures from different eras, some older than 100 years. The house where the museum is located, called Fridbjarnarhus, is also one of the oldest buildings in Akureyri.

Davidshus House

Davidshus is a historic house that belonged to the beloved local poet and novelist Davíð Stefánsson. He built and lived in this house until his death in 1964. Today, visitors can glimpse the author's life and works through his library and personal belongings. The house's lower floor also serves as a short-term residence for artists, writers, and scholars.

Laufas Heritage Site

Laufas is known for its old turf houses.

Photo by Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir.

The Laufas Heritage Site, located 17 miles (28 kilometers) from Akureyri, is a well-preserved example of Icelandic turf farm architecture. It provides a window into upper-class rural life in the 19th century, with its turf houses, wooden church, and historical artifacts. Visitors can explore the interior of the turf houses, experiencing firsthand the living spaces that were once home to Icelandic families.

Just an hour from Akureyri, you can also visit Glaumbaer, another turf house farm site in the Skagafjordur fjord. It's part of the Skagafjordur Heritage Museum.

Why Visit the Akureyri Museum

A visit to the Akureyri Museum not only offers a fascinating journey through history and culture but also supports the preservation and conservation of valuable artifacts, artworks, and historical sites. By patronizing the museum, visitors contribute to the ongoing efforts to safeguard Akureyri and North Iceland’s heritage for future generations. 

In addition, the exhibits are family-friendly, with interactive displays, hands-on experiences, and educational programs designed to engage young minds and spark curiosity.

How to Get to the Akureyri Museum

Akureyri is a beautiful coastal town in North Iceland.The Akureyri Museum is conveniently located a few minutes walk and drive from downtown Akureyri, making it easily accessible for both locals and visitors.

On the other hand, if you’re coming from Reykjavik, the most popular mode of transportation is renting an affordable car. The drive usually takes five hours and covers 242 miles (390 kilometers) of Iceland's Ring Road or Route 1.

Your other options are riding a public bus or a plane. There are daily scheduled public bus services between Reykjavik and Akureyri. You can also pick up a rental car in Akureyri

The fastest yet priciest option to travel to Akureyri is by taking a domestic flight from Reykjavik Airport. There are daily domestic flights from Reykjavik Domestic Airport to Akureyri Airport, with flight durations ranging from 45 minutes to an hour.

More Attractions to Visit in Akureyri and North Iceland

There are many things to do in AkureyriNear the Akureyri Museum, visitors can explore some of North Iceland's most captivating natural attractions. They're easily accessible with a rental car or with exiciting Akureyri tours.

Situated along Akureyri is Eyjafjordur, Iceland's longest fjord and a prime location for whale-watching adventures. This majestic fjord, flanked by towering mountains and scenic landscapes, provides an excellent setting for spotting various species of whales, including humpback whales, minke whales, and even the occasional orca. 

Visitors can embark on guided whale-watching tours from Akureyri Harbor, where knowledgeable guides lead expeditions into the waters of Eyjafjordur. For example, this whale-watching tour from Akureyri and this whale and birdwatching RIB boat tour are led by experienced guides who will enrich your experience with exciting trivia about the gentle giants of the sea.

Lake Myvatn is famous for its pseudocraters.

An hour’s drive from the museum and the town is stunning Lake Myvatn. Myvatn is a geological wonderland renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and unique natural features. Bubbling mud pots and otherworldly lava formations surround this volcanic lake.

At Lake Myvatn, you can explore diverse attractions such as the surreal Dimmuborgir lava formations and the unique pseudocraters of Skutustadagigar. The area is also a haven for birdwatchers, with abundant birdlife inhabiting the lake's shores and wetlands. 

Other top destinations in the region include the Godafoss waterfall, Dettifoss waterfall, and the Asbyrgi canyon. They're all part of the famous Diamond Circle route.

Alternatively, if you plan on staying in Akureyri for a few days, don’t miss out on visiting the Akureyri Botanical Garden, Kjarnaskogur forest, and downtown Akureyri. The town also has excellent hotels and accommodations where you can stay, such as Berjaya Hotel Akureyri and Hotel North.

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