Reykjanes Duus Hús combines Culture and History
The often overlooked but ‘must-visit’ town of Reykjanesbær is the first sign of civilisation upon arrival in Iceland. Don’t be bluffed by the small size of the community. The wealth of activities available to visitors and locals is extensive and locals are particularly proud of their heritage and the intimacy they share with the great North Atlantic Ocean crashing upon its rocky shores.
The best place to discover the long tradition of seamanship is at the Reykjanes Art Museum located in the Duus Hús Cultural Centre, one of Iceland’s most remarkable historical documentations of life in ages past.
The Duus Hús Cultural Centre opened its doors in the spring of 2002 when the first stage was completed. In the years to come, the Cultural Centre grew from a single construction to a cluster of houses representing 100 years of architectural history in the region, the oldest being from 1877 and the most recent one from 1954. The choice of materials changed significantly from timber in 1877 to concrete in 1954.
Throughout history, the Duus Hús cluster has been a commercial centre for the local fishing industry and today, it is a memorial museum celebrating the region’s long history with seamanship and fish processing.
A Veritable Armada of Vessels
The first house to open on 11th May 2002 was Bátasalurinn, where over 100 models of the Icelandic fleet have been collected. The oldest are replicas of 19th century vessels to modern 20th century trawlers. Grímur Karlsson, a former sea captain, built the majority of the collection. Other items of interest are wooden sculptures by Guðmundur Garðarsson, and souvenirs and pictures rooted in seamanship and fish processing.
The World of Art
Listasalurinn (art gallery) opened in April 2003 and numerous local and international artists have exhibited
their work in the gallery. For instance, the summer 2012 exhibition was a collection of artwork from a large collection belonging to former sea captain Matthías Matthíasson and his wife Katrín M. Ólafsdóttir. Matthías Matthíasson collected art from around the world during his travels as a captain and was a friend and a benefactor to artists in the Faroe Islands, Denmark and in Iceland.
Gryfjan or the Pit Hole opened in Duus Hús on 11th June 2004, the day Reykjanesbær celebrated its tenth anniversary. Two years later, Bíósalurinn or the Cinema Room opened its doors for cultural activities, meetings, conferences, art exhibitions and theatre performances. Last but not least, it has served as a concert hall where most of the community’s local artists have performed since its opening.
The last building to be incorporated into the museum is the Bryggjuhúsið or the Harbour house. It is one of the more important buildings in the Duus Hús cluster, and the goal is to make it a mirror image of the original.
To the local municipality, arts are an asset to the society of man, and the fusion of history and art makes the Duus Hús Cultural Centre a unique place to visit. Nearly 400,000 visitors have come to the art museum since the opening in 2002.
A Testament to the seamen of the past
The Fishing Season (Vertíð) exhibition that opened in June 2012 is a documentation of the pre-industrialised years when seamen would head out to sea on small rowboats.
Workers from all corners of the country would walk long distances to the shores of Reykjanes where work was plentiful during the winter season from 2nd February to 11th May. As early as the early 1800’s, commercial vessels travelled to Iceland in Spring, stocked with foreign products and departed in the Autumn, laden with Icelandic seafood.
Toward the end of the 19th century, merchants set up shop along the coast of Iceland. The new commercial centre became the heart of small coastal communities erected as a result of the industry’s expansion. Two of the buildings in the Duus cluster are former commercial centres.
Further in the past: The Viking World
If there is time to spare, a visit to Víkingaheimar or Viking World is a great way to end the day. It is the place to explore Norse Mythology, records of famous sagas and authentic turf houses where early settlers lived once upon a time.Reykjanesbær
Tjarnargötu 12 • 230 Reykjanesbær
+354 421 6700