Husavik Museum

The Husavik Museum celebrates the vibrant and progressive history of the Þingeyjar Counties and is run by the District Cultural Center. The permanent exhibition “Daily Life and Nature” examines a century in the history of people whose relationship with nature was immediate and intimate in the years 1850-1950. Natural objects and man-made artefacts are displayed along with contemporary personal accounts by local people. The museum's other permanent exhibition is the Maritime Museum, which provides an insight into the evolution of fishing and boat building in the area, from the time of the rowboat to the age of the motorboat. A myriad of artefacts and a variety of boats are on display, many of which were built in Husavik. In 2021, UNESCO inscribed the Nordic clinker boat traditions on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and here you can view the craftsmanship involved in this tradition.

Additionally, there are two galleries that hold a diverse range of multi-annual art exhibitions. The building is also home to the District Archives as well as a large collection of art and photography.

Daily Life and Nature - 100 Years in Þingeyjarsýslur

Daily Life and Nature – 100 Years in Þingeyjar Counties is one of the permanent exhibitions at the Husavik Museum. It explores the connection between man and nature in the period 1850-1950. Contemporary personal accounts by local people guide guests through the exhibition, where man-made artefacts are displayed alongside natural objects. The exhibition also houses a space where guests can learn about the history of the Cooperative Society and trading companies since the first one in Iceland was established in this area.

Photos: Daily Life and Nature

Maritime Museum

The other permanent exhibition in the Husavik Museum is the Maritime Museum which provides an insight into the evolution of fishing and boat building in the area, from the time of the rowboat and through to the age of the motorboat. Along with a myriad of artifacts a variety of boats are on exhibit, many of which were built in Húsavík, and emphasizes how people utilized the riches of the ocean and the beaches in order to survive.

Photos: Maritime Museum

 District Art Collection

The Art Collection currently consists of almost nineteen hundred works and has therefore grown enormously since its foundation on April 1, 1978, when the museum’s founding donation consisted of 77 works by 30 artists. The foundation was not least thanks to Sigurður P. Björnsson, who focused on collecting paintings for donation to the Collection, especially works by local artists. The donation therefore mainly consisted of works by artists with connections to the two Þingeyjar Counties.

The District Art Collection began holding exhibitions in 1980 at the Husavik Museum, which was inaugurated in the same year. The Collection is now run by the District Cultural Center and its portfolio is mostly preserved in the art storage space on the 3rd floor of the Husavik Museum. However, a few works are on loan with the municipalities that run the Husavik Museum. In the museum, there is an exhibition space simply called the Painting Hall, where exhibitions are held every year with a primary focus on visual arts.

One of the most important parts of the founding donation is 27 works by the artist Valtýr Pétursson (1919–1988), who was born and raised in the village Grenivík in South Þingeyjar County, and who presented them to the Collection himself. Among other important works that were a part of the founding donation of the museum are three paintings by Arngrímur the Painter (Arngrímur Gíslason, 1829–1927) who was also a native of the region, born in Skörð in Reykjahverfi. Arngrímur’s works are remarkable records of the rural culture of his time, of a type more commonly found in cultural museums than in art collections (most of his works that are not privately owned are stored in the National Museum of Iceland), although they also have great significance in the history of Icelandic visual art.

The District Art Collection has regularly received generous gifts since its establishment, both from locals and outsiders. Special mention may be made of the recent donation in 2022 of two unique works by Jón Engilberts, from Íslandsbanki’s collection. In addition, the Collection has purchased various works throughout the years and there have regularly been donations by both Icelandic and international artists of their own works. All works belonging to the Collection are registered with the District Cultural Center.

Photos: District Art Collection


District Natural History Collection

The District Natural History Collection was founded in 1966 and consists of a large collection of birds and wild terrestrial mammals found in the Þingeyjar Counties, as well as Icelandic farm animals. The museum also holds a collection of marine mammals such as seals found in Icelandic waters, taxidermied fish, a collection of crabs and an interesting stone collection.

Two private collections also belong to the Natural History Collection. One is the shell collection of Jóhannes Björnsson (1907–1998), a farmer in Ytri-Tunga in Tjörnes, which contains Icelandic shellfish and a unique collection of marine molluscs, a collection of marine gastropods that includes 179 species that have been found in Icelandic waters (plus 93 other species from the North Atlantic) and 26 species of terrestrial gastropods. It also contains many species of freshwater snails, bivalves, scaphopods, chitons, barnacles and brachiopods. The other private museum is the herbarium of the botanist and farmer Helgi Jónasson (1887–1972) from Gvendarstaðir in Kaldakinn, which was previously owned by Akureyri Natural History Museum, but was donated to the District Natural History Collection, run by the District Cultural Center, at the opening of the Husavik Museum on May 24, 1980. The herbarium consists of around 300 species of plants that Helgi collected over an extended period of time, most of which are from Þingeyjar Counties.

Finally, the museum’s best-known artifact is a stuffed polar bear – the Grímsey bear – which was shot in the island of Grímsey in the winter of 1969 and is a great attraction for museum visitors. It is part of “Human Life and Nature”, a local exhibition on the 2nd floor of the Husavik Museum, housing various objects from the Natural History Collection alongside diverse cultural artifacts, but there is no special exhibition in the museum containing only natural artifacts. The part of the museum property that is not visible is in storage at the Husavik Museum, waiting to be presented for the education and enjoyment of future visitors.

Photos: District Natural History Collection