The museum was founded in the 1950s on the site of a 15thC farm, a short bus ride from the centre of Reykjavik. Old buildings from the area have been reassembled on the site. Many are furnished and there are costumed interpreters in some of the houses.
The museum is made up of different areas; the town area, old farm area and industrial complex.
The town area has examples of different styles and ages of wealthy houses as well as examples of labourers cottages. Most buildings were of wood although some of the labourers cottages were partially built using large stones. Some of the later buildings had corrugated iron cladding over the wood. There were also a few reconstructed shop buildings.
The farm area is a short walk across fields and has a small turf church. This is a modern building to a 19thC design. Churches like this can still be found in parts of Iceland.
The church is surrounded by a stone bank covered with grass. Entry is through a small wooden lytch gate. The end walls of the church are wood but the sides are built from pieces of cut turf on a stone base. The roof is also turf. Inside is very simple with a screen separating the nave and small chancel. There are plain wooden benches. The altar is small and surrounded by a rail. above is a picture.
The farm is still on the original 15thcCsite although the present buildings date from 1850-1920 and were in use until 1948. They became the first part of the museum a few years later.
The farm began as a small turf building but gradually other buildings were attached it it. The later parts were made of wood. The early kitchen with open fire can still be seen.
The barn is part of the row of buildings. Internal passageways connect the different parts of the building and in winter the barn could be accessed from the house without having to go outside.
Later on as Reykjavik grew, the farm was increasingly uses as an inn by travellers, sleeping on beds under the roof.
There is an exhibition describing different building techniques in one of the big 19thC warehouses.
Thee is a small cafe on the site serving nice snacks and a selection of cakes.
Our pictures can be seen here.