Yesterday the family and I went on a little excursion out of the city and visited the Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘n Roll or Rokksafn Íslands in Reykjanesbær. The museum opened in April last year and the idea is, obviously, that you will learn more about Icelandic music and the people and events that have shaped it by visiting. The fact that this museum is in Reykjanesbær is no coincident but many of the biggest names in Icelandic music hail from or started out in and around that area.
I had heard a lot of nice things about this museum but mostly from people that were closely connected to it so I didn’t know what to expect. The fact that there were no cars outside of it when we got there didn’t give me confidence that the drive from Reykjavík had been worth it and to be completely honest I half thought it was probably closed. It wasn’t though.
A lot of people that join my tours tell me the story of how they fell in love with the country after listening to Björk, Sigur Rós, Múm or some of the many other Icelandic bands that have made their way to radios and iPods around the world. Many people also wonder how such a small nation can produce such a great number of talented musicians and ask whether there is something in the water that makes us different from the rest of the world. Although the museum itself doesn’t directly address these questions it does a good job of educating the visitors about Icelandic musical history with a complete timeline of musical highlights covering their walls.
The museum consists of four main sections: The timeline I mentioned before, some Icelandic memorabilia including costumes and instruments that once belonged to Icelandic musicians, a great hands-on area where you can try out different instruments (my absolute favorite was the Mininova Synth ) and a little movie theater with super comfy chairs where you can watch Icelandic music movies such as Heima by Sigurrós and Screaming Masterpiece by Ari Alexander.
We ended up spending two hours in the museum which is quite a lot considering its size. The area where you can try the different instruments was my favorite and for anyone that has a secret dream of being in a rock band but doesn’t actually play any instruments (like me) this was a great way to let loose for a while and let the imagination run wild.
Because we were the only guests in the museum for the full two hours we were there we could also ask the girl in the reception to play a movie we wanted to see and we chose to see a big part of Screaming Masterpiece mentioned above.
The entrance to the museum is 1500 ISK per person and I have to say that it’s the best 1500 ISK I’ve spent on a museum in a long time. We didn’t have to pay for the princess because she’s under 16 but she was no less happy with this visit than we were.
The only negative thing I can say about our visit to the museum is that I read on the website of the museum as I was writing this post that you can borrow an iPad with an app that gives you more information about the events on the timeline on the walls with musical examples that I imagine enhances your visit to the museum greatly. The girl in the reception, as nice and welcoming as she was, didn’t mention this to us so we didn’t know that this was possible and therefore missed this part of the exhibition. I’m a big fan of audio guides and plethora of information so this was especially disappointing for me. So make sure you ask for the iPad when you visit.
The Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘n Roll is located in Reykjanesbær, about 45 minutes from Reykjavík, and is fairly easy to find. It’s a must for all Icelandic music lovers and wannabe musicians. As an extra bonus the Reykjanes peninsula is gorgeous so you can make a whole day trip out of it.