National Museum of Iceland
Treasure Trove of Sources for Years to Come
Hjálmar R. Bárðarson, naval engineer and amateur photographer, bequeathed his collection of photographs to the National Museum of Iceland when he passed away in 2009. He was from Ísafjörður fjord and received a camera as a confirmation gift; Inga Lára Baldvinsdóttir, Curator of Photography at the National Museum of Iceland, says that after he got the camera there was no turning back. Hjálmar took photographs from when he was a teenager until the year he died.
“Hjálmar joined a photography club in Denmark—where he pursued engineering studies—and thereby got to know other amateur photographers. This was in the heyday of amateur photography and they held photographic exhibitions across Europe, as well as in the United States. Hjálmar was active in holding such exhibitions and led various other Icelandic amateur photographers in this area.”
Later, Hjálmar became Maritime Administrator in Iceland, and Inga Lára says that he continued to be passionate about photography.
“He found a forum for his pictures in the publication of numerous books on natural elements, such as birds and vegetation, but also on certain parts of the country.”
Received Part of the Inheritance
Hjálmar communicated with the staff at the National Museum Collection of Photographs and Prints at the National Museum of Iceland for over a decade and gave the museum various photographs while he was still alive. Among these were pictures that he had included in photographic exhibitions abroad.
Upon Hjálmar’s passing, it was revealed that he had bequeathed his collection of photographs to the National Museum of Iceland, as well as funds. The funds were used to change the packaging of his entire collection and place it in acid-free packaging. “The collection was well cataloged by him so it was really only a matter of changing the packaging. His files were then entered into the cataloging system Sarpur where they are accessible. After this, digital reproductions were made based on random samples from the collection; the collection is incredibly vast, containing hundreds of thousands of photographs. The collection has thus been permanently set up and made accessible to the public.”
Source of Knowledge
Inga Lára says that it was a great honour that Hjálmar entrusted the National Museum of Iceland with the preservation of his collection.
“This is of course an invaluable collection. It has many aspects and spans a period dating all the way back to 1932. This is an incredible treasure trove of sources for years to come. While Icelanders have any interest in knowing their own history and natural environment then Hjálmar’s photographs are a source of immense knowledge and visual experiences.”