Next to Skógarfoss Waterfall in the foothills of Eyjafjallajökull volcano lies possibly the most interesting museum in Iceland. Skógar Folk Museum is a unique collection of both everyday and extraordinary things dating from the recent to the distant past. The collection was started by Mr. Þórður Tómasson who at an early age starting collecting things that people were throwing away as Iceland made the jump into modernity after having survived for centuries as a geographically isolated country depending on self-sustainable fishing and farming. The museum today is divided into three parts including a museum of transport, an open air museum and the main collection.
Around a 150 km east from Reykjavik and right on the ring road and along the classic version of a south coast tour not far from Solheimajökull glacier tongue and on the way to Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, the Skogar Museum is a great stop for anybody interested in some local culture and history. The collection features a number of tools and instruments used for fishing and farming in the past, some that might be familiar and others maybe not so much. Also there are collections of traditional jewelry and clothing.
The museum gives an absolutely amazing insight into Iceland´s past. A country that went from a glorious time of being a center of trade in the North Atlantic and an independent melting pot of viking and celtic heritage in the middle ages, to becoming isolated and half-forgotten colony of Denmark. The turf houses being a great example of how hard life was. They evolved from the halls of viking era into dwellings made from what was available in a country almost without forests, made from rocks, turf and driftwood. The Museum is really a testament of survival in a country controlled by harsh elements and void of many resources available elsewhere in the world.
The area of Skógar is another example of how hard conditions can be in Iceland. The east and the west there are glacial rivers which, before bridges, could be dangerous and almost impossible to cross. To the north there is the massive Mýrdalsjökull glacier covers over 500 km2 and reaches a height of around 1500 m, within the glacier there is the monster caldera of Katla volcano and to the west there is Eyjafjallajökull volcano. As if this wasn´t enough the black sand beaches and rugged lava tips make the coastline here one of the most treacherous in Iceland.
The museum of transport is also of great interest displaying vehicles from saddles and wagons to modern day snowmobiles and superjeeps.
All in all Skógar Folk Museum is a great experience and a worthwhile stop for anybody truly interested in what Iceland really is all about and why the Icelanders are such a motley crew of weirdos, eccentrics and mad geniuses.