Live From Iceland!

Wednesday, July 13 update: Culture House, Messinn, and Harpa

If you’re walking in the city center of Reykjavik, you may have seen the Culture House. You can’t really tell what it is, but it’s a museum.

culture house outside

The current exhibition opened last year, and is called “Points of View.” I’m not really sure how to describe it. Ambitious? Challenging? The building itself is a fascinating labyrinth of rooms:

culture house crazy stairs

And each room holds an exhibit about a different, well, point of view. Some of the exhibits are called “mirror”, “inside”, and “again and again”; the one on the top floor is called “down”.

culture house weird teapot culture house witchcraft book

Much of the museum feels like an art museum, with themes in the different galleries. I don’t think kids will find  it very interesting; adults willing to put in some effort may find it an excellent museum. To the museum’s credit, there are many kid’s areas and activities scattered throughout. But, these feel a little bit like areas to distract the children while the adults focus on the main exhibits. Here are some of the areas that may interest kids:

culture house kids biography culture house kids touch room culture house kids upstairs hideaway culture house kids witch book

The museum costs 1200 krona for adults, and is free for kids under 18. I don’t think it’s right for everyone, but a subset if families may find it a rewarding (and reasonably priced) visit. The comprehensive web guide may help you decide.

For lunch we headed just across the street to the new restaurant Messinn. My first introduction to this restaurant was from this article. Messinn is “inspired by renowned restaurant Tjöruhúsið in Ísafjörður.” We had unquestionably the best meal we’ve had in Iceland at Tjöruhúsið. And, since kids eat FREE at Tjöruhúsið, that was an incredible, borderline ridiculous deal for our family.

So my expectations for Messinn were high, and probably unfairly high. We had an excellent, and reasonably priced lunch:

messinn char

That’s the arctic char, brought to your table in the pan it was cooked in. It costs 2100 krona, or about $17; you also get bread and butter. We also had the plaice dish, which we liked even better.

There is no kid’s menu, though at dinner they will make your kids a smaller portion for a smaller price. Messinn is a good place to enjoy top notch fish. But if you find yourself in the Westfjords, you still need to eat at Tjöruhúsið!

In the afternoon we explored Harpa.

harpa outside

People call Harpa a concert hall, but it’s really much more than that. There are several exhibit halls, multiple evening theater shows, a short movie, and more. Here’s what they were advertising inside:

harpa events sign

We checked out the Icelandic Book of Drawings. It was an exhibit about a book of drawings done by 4 unknown artists between 1330 and 1500.

harpa manuscript

This is most of the exhibit, though they also have a description of the book and some recreations of the pages. But it was disappointing for 1500 krona. The Culture House (above) was only 1200 krona and offers you a much more impressive experience.

Reviews of the 360° cinematic experience are surprisingly poor; it’s a 12 minute movie in a square room for another 1500 krona. There are some package deals that make multiple Harpa events more affordable. And we plan to check out one of the evening shows. But for now, my recommendation is to avoid Harpa exhibitions and spend your money elsewhere.

[Update: We saw an evening show– The Icelandic Sagas in 75 minutes at Harpa— and liked it!]

But you can still spend some quality time in Harpa– for free! It’s a beautiful building and I think kids will enjoy exploring it.

harpa sitting places harpa windows to outside

At the end, in lieu of the movie, you can buy some ice cream. 450 krona for a scoop, two (in one container) for 600 krona, or three for 750.

harpa ice cream 450 scoop


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Wednesday, July 13 update: Culture House, Messinn, and Harpa was last modified: January 14th, 2017 by Eric