Alternative Museums and Insights

I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about museums in Reykjavík and it made me think about a few other successful museum-like experiences you might be interested in that maybe don’t exactly fit your average museum-profile.

 Sverrir Hermannsson’s Sundry Collection or “Smámunasafnið” is a small museum in Eyjafjörður, just outside of Akureyri.

This is one of my favorite museums in Iceland. Actually, this might just be one of my favorite places in Iceland. In this building you’ll find an endless amount of tiny objects that on their own are worthless but when lined up with so many of their siblings suddenly become thrilling. Rusty nails, keys, matches and all kinds of things that you wouldn’t pick up off the street, except to throw away like a good citizen, are lined up in an orderly fashion. Through one man’s passion these (at best) trinkets, suddenly become unique artifacts.

It’s not just the quantity of tiny objects and shapes that are completely fascinating but the entire existence of this massive collection that is nothing short of mind-blowing. Keep in mind that this is one man’s collection of items, seen, collected, kept and cataloged through a lifetime of working as a carpenter and handyman.


And since you’re in the neighborhood I recommend the nearby Christmas Garden, open all year round. This quirky homage to Christmas is the perfect match to the phenomenon that is Sverrir’s Sundry Collection and will lighten the spirits of even the grimmest of grinches. Plus you’ll be able to stock up on as many Christmas ornaments as you can fit in your suitcase.

Akureyri, Iceland
Image copyright Stefán Birgir Stefáns:


Whales of Iceland

This is more of an exhibition than a museum but I just really love this place. As you’ve probably guessed from my previous blogs I really do love whales and although nothing beats seeing a real live one swimming in the sea this is the only time I see whales in their entirety. These are life-sized replicas, not real specimens but they’re well done and the multimedia exhibition is full of accessible and useful information. Try to get there early because standing alone in front of a life-size replica of a Blue Whale is both humbling and deeply calming.



The Icelandic Phallological Museum

I confess. I’ve never personally been there but how could I list up alternative museums in Iceland without including the (presumably) only penis museum in the world? What felt like an odd joke to Icelanders when it first opened in 1997 has grown into a full-blown tourist attraction and a rather successful one considering its apparent popularity. According to their website their collection contains 282 “specimens” from 93 different animal species. And yes, that includes a human specimen, donated by a 95 year old man upon his death in 2011. It may sound shady but it really was just one man’s passion for the scientific study of penises that eventually became a respectable museum in Laugavegur.


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