The Reykjavik Maritime Museum
Overcast and a bitterly cold wind with the odd spot of drizzle thrown in - time to check out the city's Maritime Museum down at the Old Harbour. Housed in a building dating from 1947, originally constructed as a fish freezing plant, this museum was established in 2005 with a collection covering the Icelanders' relationship with the sea, from the early settlements to the late 20th century. The three main permanent displays are; 'The History of Sailing', 'From Poverty to Abundance' and the Icelandic Coastguard Rescue Vessel ICGV Odin.
'The History of Sailing' recounts Iceland's maritime history and the growth of Reykjavík Harbour, which for centuries was one of the country’s main fisheries and trading centres, and grew to become Iceland's largest port.
'From Poverty to Abundance' portrays the Icelandic fisheries at the turn of the 20th century, and depicts the lives of Icelandic fishermen. Amongst the exhibits is Farsæll, a rowboat built around 1900 which usually operated with a crew of four. For many years, dried fish was the main export, but as the 19th century progressed, salted cod became an evermore important commodity. As the industrial revolution developed, Rowboats began disappearing from Icelandic waters and larger vessels such as decked boats and cutters, which could go further out to sea and fish larger hauls, were becoming more common.
By far largest exhibit, permanently moored at the wharf outside, is the Icelandic Coastguard Rescue Vessel ICGV Odin (below). Visitors can only step on board and view featured displays on one of the guided tours that run several times a day, for which I believe there is an additional charge.
Odin was built in Aalborg, Denmark, in 1959 and commissioned in January of the following year. Her design incorporates a specially reinforced bow and hull for sailing through ice. She was rebuilt in 1975 in Denmark by Arhus Flydedock, when a helicopter deck and hangar were added. Prior to her being decommissioned in 2006 she patrolled Iceland's territorial fishing grounds, monitoring both Icelandic and foreign vessels' activities, and took part in all three 'Cod Wars' during the 1950s and 1970s. Her crew numbered 19 men.
Right: This is a recreation of the workshop of Konrad Gislason (1903-1999), also known as `Konni the Compass`, who was among the best known of those who provided services to the Icelandic shipping fleet in the 20th century. He ran his own workshop, close to the harbour, for almost 60 years where he adjusted and repaired compasses. His son, Gudmundur, worked alongside him for the last 20 years due to Konrad`s failing eyesight.
Above: Life below decks: The living quarters on a fishing cutter and the radio room on an early steamship.
A Fisherman`s home.