Herring Era Museum Travel Guide
The Herring Era Museum is the largest maritime museum in Iceland, which details the country's rich history of herring fishery and processing.
Visit this Icelandic museum when taking a self-drive tour in North Iceland. For example, this 14-day self-drive tour on Iceland's ring road includes a stop in Siglufjordur, where you can find the attraction.
The Herring Era Museum is an excellent place to learn about the heydays of the herring fishery in the 20th century. Its top-notch exhibitions and facilities earned the European Museum Award in 2004.
Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Rob Oo. No edits made.
What is the Herring Era Museum of Iceland?
The Herring Era Museum is a maritime museum located in the town of Siglufjordur in the northern region of Iceland. It nestles by the beautiful fjord of the same name, known for its towering mountains and coasts.
The Herring Museum showcases the colorful history and rich culture of the herring industry in Iceland. It is considered the largest maritime museum in the country and perhaps the only one of its kind in the world.
This attraction is special to Icelanders because it delves into a time when Siglufjordur and the rest of the country thrived on herring fishing from the early to mid-1900s. It provides an interesting and informative glimpse into an industry that once shaped the economy of Iceland.
Visitors of the museum can explore the facilities and learn about the lives of the people who worked in the industry and the impact that the herring fishery had on Icelandic society. In addition, it features exhibits and artifacts related to the herring industry, including old photographs, fishing equipment, machinery, and preserved herring products.
The museum is open daily from May to September and by appointment only for the rest of the year. When visiting Herring Era, you can access guided tours, educational programs, interactive exhibits, and multimedia displays, including a simulation of a herring salting station.
Main Exhibitions in the Herring Era Museum
Inside the museum complex in North Iceland, you can find most artifacts and displays housed in three separate buildings. Each exhibition building has a concept and theme related to a significant aspect of the herring era.
Roaldsbrakki is one of the three buildings comprising the Herring Era Museum in Iceland. This building is a former Norwegian salting station built in 1907. Certain parts of the building also used to be a boarding house for workers who came to Siglufjordur during the herring season in summer.
Today, Roaldsbrakki houses various exhibits that give visitors a unique glimpse into the history of the herring adventure. It also provides a perspective into the everyday lives of the workers who made the Icelandic herring industry possible.
The main area of Roaldsbrakki is where you can see old photographs, artifacts, and documents of Iceland's fishing and salting processes. There's also a section on this floor dedicated to herring products exportation.
Although the museum focuses on Iceland's herring industry, it still incorporates history from the rest of Europe, particularly Norway.
One of the highlights of the Roaldsbrakki building is the boarding house on the third floor, where some employees stay for several months a year. Today, visitors can still see the original beds and furnishings the workers used before.
The museum's second building is called Grana, a recreation of different herring reduction factories in Iceland. All the pieces of artifacts and objects in Grana came from old factories as far as Hjalteyri and Ingolfsfjordur villages.
Production of fish oil and meal are the main themes of Grana. While exploring the exhibition, you can learn about how factory workers maximized the power of machines to produce the famous herring meal and oil of Iceland. For an immersive experience, you can see the actual devices used in these processes up close.
Part of the experience is seeing processing and packing equipment, different kinds of barrels for storage, and a cold storage room for fish preservation.
Photo from Flickr, Creative Commons by, Uwe Brodrecht. No edits made.
The Boathouse is the newest among the three exhibitions of the Herring Era Museum in Siglufjordur. It opened in 2004 and was inaugurated by Haakon, the Crown Prince of Norway.
Visitors can expect to see a recreation of a typical North Iceland herring port in the Boathouse. In the lobby, you can find artifacts, multimedia presentations, and marine research related to fishing activities, including locating herring shoals in the fjords and seas surrounding Iceland.
The main attractions of this building are the 11 boats docked in the area. These boats are of different sizes, designs, origins, and years of construction but have the same purpose of fishing.
The most prominent boat on display is Tyr SK 33, weighing 38 tonnes. The remaining vessels are combinations of purse-seine, rowing, and harbor boats. Occasionally, the Boathouse hosts small concerts and performances where the largest ship often serves as the stage.
Other Features of the Icelandic Maritime Museum
Apart from the three buildings, the Herring Era Museum features smaller exhibitions in the same complex. Therefore, you shouldn't miss them to complete your experience.
One of these sections is the Salting Exhibitions, where a live presentation of traditional salting processes and herring packing awaits you. A bonus here is a piece of live accordion music with dancers and singers to entertain guests.
The two other parts of the Icelandic museum are the Old Slipway and Njardarskemma. While the Old Slipway is an open workshop and exhibition of boat-building, Njardarskemma is a herring warehouse for electric and technological equipment.
How to Get to the Icelandic Herring Era Museum
Getting to the Herring Era Museum in Siglufjordur is relatively easy by private and public transport. In particular, if you're traveling from Reykjavik, you have three transportation options traversing 240 miles (385 kilometers).
The fastest option is traveling by air to Siglufjordur with connecting land transportation. You can take a flight from Reykjavik to Akureyri Airport in North Iceland for about 45 minutes. From there, you can drive a car rental or bus for over two hours.
If you have more time to spare and don't want to spend a lot, your best option is a bus ride. The travel takes around six to nine hours, depending on the route and stops you get.
Meanwhile, renting a car in Iceland is ideal for maximizing your trip. In particular, driving to the Herring Era Museum from Reykjavik only takes about five hours.
Top Attractions to Visit in North Iceland Near the Herring Museum
Apart from the Herring Era Museum, Siglufjordur and North Iceland offer countless beautiful attractions and natural landscapes that you can easily explore.
Don't miss your chance to explore the picturesque Siglufjordur fjord surrounding the town of the same name. Ice-capped mountains of the Trollaskagi Peninsula and lush valleys surround Siglufjordur. The fjord was once brimming with herring shoals but remains scenic even today.
The capital town of North Iceland, Akureyri, is not far from the museum. This Icelandic town is an excellent base for exploring the region's crown jewels, such as the Dettifoss waterfall and Lake Myvatn.