For centuries, Iceland was almost completely isolated from the rest of Europe. The wild and harsh climate made international trade, commerce and relations all but impossible, and the heavy-handed laws imposed by the Danish and Norwegian monarchies, did not make life any easier.Craftsmanship born of necessity
As a result of the isolation and scarcity of goods, craftsmanship of all kinds blossomed and many highly skilled artisans produced a variety of useful and decorative items. Icelanders had to rely heavily on their own ingenuity and resourcefulness for obtaining many items that were taken for granted in the rest of the world.
The Skógar Folk Museum pays tribute to Iceland’s many fine craftsmen and women who each contributed in their own way to Iceland’s rich cultural history. The museum was begun in 1945 by Þórður Tómasson, who gradually built up his collection, as Icelanders near and far began to donate cherished family heirlooms to the growing museum. There are now 3 separate areas which comprise the museum as a whole: The main building houses a vast array of fascinating cultural items; an outdoor exhibition of reconstructed turf houses and other historical buildings and the most recent addition, the Museum of Transport and Communications which was completed in 2002.
A High Standard of Ingenuity & Skill
The electrical exhibit in the Skogar Transport Museum is unique, not just in Iceland but in the world. Nowhere else have untrained country farmers built electrical turbines, and erected hydroelectric power stations with unsurpassed quality. Using scrap iron from shipwrecks, self-taught electrical engineers played an enormous role in the electrification of the countryside. An early prototype turbine engine from 1921 is on display in the museum, rightly claiming its place as the oldest turbine engine still in existence today in Iceland. The Icelandic baðstofa
The baðstofa or communal room, was where the women sat with their weaving or knitting, and the men with their whittling and their carving.
This is where the family slept and ate, where stories were told, rhymes were sung and poems recited.
Well built turf houses had good insulation, so it was generally warm inside. Despite poor lighting and cramped quarters, the Icelandic baðstofa produced many a fine work of art and splendid piece of clothing.
It was here also that the Icelandic literary and storytelling culture thrived and flourished.