During our last couple of days in Iceland, we went to a couple of lesser-known museums between Reykjavik and the Keflavik airport. Let’s start with the Fire Museum in Keflavik. When you’re driving to or from the airport, you may see a fire truck mounted on a sign way up in the air. It’s on your left driving from the airport. I didn’t get a picture of it from that side, but that’s the back of the Icelandic Firefighter’s Museum. This is all you’ll see at the main entrance:
It’s in Keflavik, just a minute or two from Viking World. But, this museum has extremely limited opening hours: Sunday from 1-5. That’s it! The owner is a firefighter in Keflavik; he actually served as a firefighter at the US Naval base in Keflavik for many years. A few years ago, he and a friend decided to open up a museum, while still keeping their firefighting jobs!
The good news is that the owner was very responsive on the museum’s Facebook page; it was very easy to set up a convenient time for us to visit.
The museum houses fire trucks and other firefighting equipment from all over Iceland. You start with the oldest stuff: hand pumps!
You’ll also see an exhibit about the Reykjavik fire of 1915. Until the moment of the fire, the city thought it didn’t need automated water pumps. Apparently, a man tried to sell one to the city, but they refused to buy it. So the salesman left the pump locked up in Reykjavik; it had come over from Denmark, and it was too expensive to bring back.
When the fire broke out, the fire chief remembered the pump, “stole” it to put out the fire, and the immediately purchased it. (I hope I have that story correct!) Here’s the exhibit about this fire:
You progress through to more modern fire trucks. For a very long time, nearly all of the trucks were American made; you’ll see a whole lot of Ford fire trucks:
Almost all of the trucks are still operational, and they may be brought out for parades or special occasions. And, the kids (or you!) are allowed to sit in many of them.
The museum costs 800 krona for adults, and free for kids 17 and under. This isn’t a must see, but if you or your kids are interested in firefighting, this is another nice attraction within 10 minutes of the airport.
While we were in the area, we headed back to the impressively named Landnámsdýragarður, the Settlement Zoo (sorry, it’s an Icelandic link). During our last visit, there wasn’t much going on– just a few goats wandering around near the Viking Museum. But today we saw a variety of animals:
The zoo is free, so stop by if you’re in the area during the summer. You can park in the parking lot for Viking World. And there are a lot more things to see and do around Keflavik.
Much closer to Reykjavik, but just a few minutes off the road to or from the airport, are two museums in the Kópavogur area. The Art Museum is right next to the Natural History Museum. Here is the art museum:
Upstairs, you have a strange English word poem exhibit; you’ll see a few words of profanity scattered through the poems.
Downstairs there are some wire sculptures:
But what may make this work your time and the admission price (only 500 krona for adults, and free for children) is the play area downstairs. They have hammers, nails, and string. And a wall. If your kids are old enough to hammer some nails into the wall, you may be stuck here for a very long time!
Less impressive, but also less expensive (free) is the Natural History museum next door; it’s inside the town library. You can pay 500 krona for an English guide book, but we just walked around for a few minutes. There is a huge redwood tree chunk, given to Iceland as a gift from the United States.
Otherwise, you have several exhibits of animals, shells, and rocks.
If the hammer and nails sound interesting, you may want to stop by Kópavogur; while you’re there, you can explore both museums.