With a group of curators away on a trip together one thing is guaranteed – we’ll find some museums to visit!
So one Icelandic word I’ve learnt is ‘safn’ meaning museum or collection. We’ve visited a whole host of wonderful museum large and small since arriving in Iceland.
There was Arbaer open air museum with it’s beautiful architecture and really stylish displays of Icelandic life and commodities.
Then there was Eldheimar (Pompeii of the North) telling the story of the eruption on Heimaey with it’s evocative excavated house and clever use of audioguides. David has an interesting interview with the Director of this new museum here.
The Aquarium and Natural History Museum in Heimay celebrating it’s 50th anniversary with decorated stones and the chance to meet it’s VIP resident:
The eclectic shark fishing museum on the north of the Snaefellsness peninsula with artifacts, drying shark and the opportunity to buy the real thing. Visit Dmitri’s blog for a full write-up of this one!
The charming natural history museum in Ólafsfjördur with an extensive collection of birds, a polar bear and something which I particularly enjoyed…..a little browseable herbarium.
At the Museum of Akureyri the current exhibition was an interesting display of images of Iceland today taken using the wet plate technique. We have some plates like this in our collection and even though ours are about 100 years old and these were modern, all the smudges and drips around the edges look identical. ALongside this chenging temporary exhibition they also had two more permanent displays about mapping Iceland and life in Akureyri in ages past.
In many of the landscapes we’ve visited in Iceland we have found loose mounds of ash from eruptions, black sand dunes or debris from glacial meltwater streams. One plant which happily colonizes this unstable, well-drained ground is Lyme grass (Leymus arenarius), a tall grass with distinctive blue-grey leaves.
Clumps of this grass will spread, growing new shoots from underground rhizomes and so can create large swathes of vegetation across empty expanses of sands.
After the 1973 eruption of Eldfell in Heimay, Vestmannaeyjar, residents had to dig their town out of the tonnes of smothering ashes. To stop the material blowing off the volcano slopes and back into the town, they planted species such as this to bind the new surfaces together.
Lyme grass is tolerant of sea salt and tolerant of drought. It is found around Central and Northern Europe and has been introduced to many locations (such as N America). It is planted because of it’s ability or bind sand together, stabilizing environments such as fore dunes, but it’s spreading habit means that it can become invasive.