On a rainy/snowy and windy day it can be tempting to stay inside. Inside can be a lot of things though, and one of the best kinds of insides is a museum or exhibition that will make your whole trip a more rewarding experience. If you’re looking for something to match that description, I recommend the Settlement exhibition.
The Settlement Exhibition is a unique exhibition in the centre of Reykjavík with a Viking-age longhouse that was unearthed in 2001 as the focal point and star of the show. The exhibition also includes all the artifacts found in and around the house along with a massive amount of information on the Age of Settlement. The exhibition designers obviously wanted to pack it with as much information as they could which means that there is a lot of reading, but it is presented in a very inclusive way so it never feels boring or dull.
The Settlement Exhibition is set up in such a creative way that those who are really interested in the material can immerse themselves in the history and the culture of the viking age. There are touch screens in the museum and two interactive touch-tables as well, one of which provides more information about the house (with animations), while the other describes the surrounding area and what other houses in the area might have looked like. Thus, even though those houses have been destroyed and their remains not yet unearthed, we still get an idea of what this area used to look like.
The same building also houses a separate exhibition where five very important historical manuscripts are on display. The manuscripts are kept in beautiful display cases and the walls next to them have information about each of them and their importance for the history of Iceland and the Icelandic people. This exhibition is a must-see for those who are even remotely interested in history as well as anyone who watches Vikings, the television series about the fictionalized adventures of Ragnar Loðbrók. There are, after all, a few facts in the series that have to be double-checked. I think this is the museum that I have been for the longest in in my entire life and considering it’s relatively small size I would call that a massive achievement on their part.
The Settlement Sagas exhibition was very interesting as well, although I, as someone who is studying about Vikings and the Medieval North, would have loved to take a closer, more personal look at them. That, unfortunately is impossible, due to the manuscripts being so fragile. Still, just looking at them is overwhelming as these manuscripts are a very important part of the Icelandic heritage.
As an added bonus, the Settlement exhibition is open later than most museums, or until 8 PM.