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Monday, August 1 update, Part 2: Árbær Open Air Museum

After a morning trip to Viðey Island, we headed to another Reykjavik City Museum, Árbær Open Air Museum. Here, they’ve taken a lot of old houses from around Iceland and moved them to one place. This creates the feel of a village from the mid 19th century, give or take.

Arbaer main square (1 of 1)

Most of the houses are set up so you can see how people used to live. Some have specific exhibits in them. The “museum” is several acres in size, and you can wander around and explore whichever houses catch your interest.

open air lots of houses (1 of 1)

On the day we went, they were playing children’s games. There was some rain, and so there wasn’t a ton of interest in the outdoor games. But we did play some Koob (“club”) with the costumed workers:

open air museum koob

Inside the house you can see in the background above, there is an exhibit about toys and life in different years. Kids can explore and play:

open air play room year (1 of 1)

(There’s a working Nintendo with Super Mario Bros in the room from the 80’s, so prepare yourself if your kids might get sucked into that option …)

Further back, there’s an exhibit called “Between the Lines” which talks about how women used to earn a living in a society that expected them to conform to gender stereotypes.

open air between the lines (1 of 1)

But most of the houses are just houses, with kitchens and bedrooms to explore. You’ll find a blacksmith, a printer, and homes of ordinary people.

open air nice room (1 of 1)

If you’re lucky, and you’re there on a Saturday, you may find someone making scones in one of the kitchens. And on any day you may stumble across other costumed interpreters outside or inside some of the homes.

We let the older kids wander around on their own; the place feels big enough to explore, but small enough that you can always find your way back to the square at the entrance. There’s a map that you can check it out here; the place is bigger than it seems at first glance.

You will also find a cafe called Dillon’s Cafe. Like all of the other houses here, it was moved to Árbær. In this case, the house was built in 1835 by Arthur Dillon; it was moved here in 1960. We didn’t eat here, and the menu appears limited. But you can find several items, both meals (lamb soup is 1700 krona) and sweets (kleina donuts are 500 krona.)

Admission is 1500 krona for adults, and free for kids 17 and under. We enjoyed Árbær, and we recommend it if the weather is nice. I do wish this was more like Colonial Williamsburg in the United States, though the price of admission there is about 5 times more expensive for a family of 4. But it would be fun if Árbær would pick a day in history, and have all of the costumed interpreters pretending to be from that day. I’m not sure what the days would be. June 17th, 1944– Icelandic Independence Day? The day women got the right to vote in 1915? Someone who knows more about Iceland would have to figure this out.

Anyway, if you have a car, this is a museum where everyone in the family should find something to enjoy.

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Monday, August 1 update, Part 2: Árbær Open Air Museum was last modified: August 9th, 2016 by Eric