Heritage House Exhibitions

Heritage HouseThe Heritage House shows exhibitions which illuminate e.g. the interaction of individuals with their social environment. Exhibits include four twentieth century tradesmens workshops; the personal histories of writers and artists are told, and examples of private collections are on display. A storage area is set aside for frequently-changing exhibitions including recent acquisitions and items of special importance or interest.

Many treasures of old times exist in Skagafjrur both objects and images from past generations, and individual memories. People leave behind a variable, diverse cultural heritage, and many individuals have made their mark upon the generations that have followed them. Their roles are various, but they join together to form something remarkable. That is the spectrum of human life.

Here we meet three individuals whose influence is still felt, although they have departed this life. They are: novelist Gurn from Lundur (1887-1975), composer Eyr Stefnsson (1901-1999) and artist Jhannes Geir Jnsson (1927-2003). The books of Gurn from Lundur are still read widely today, and Eyr's songs are sung around the country. Jhannes Geir's series of paintingsshow scenes from Sturlung saga, which tells of civil strife in the 13th century, have made a vital contribution to perceptions of that eventful period of Skagafjrur history.

The writer
Heritage House GLGurn Baldvina rnadttir (1887-1975) was for many years one of Icelands most popular and prolific novelists. Born at Lundur in Stfla in the Fljt district, she was one of eleven children of rni Magnsson and Baldvina sgrmsdttir. When Gurn was 11 they moved to Enni in Hfastrnd, then five years later to Keta on Skagi and then to Malland. In the Hfastrnd district Gurn became a keen member of the Reading Association, and this led to her long-lasting relationship with libraries, first as an enthusiastic reader, and later as one of Icelands most-read authors. For a quarter of a century her books were the most-borrowed from libraries all over Iceland. In 1910 Gurn married a carpenter, Jn orfinnsson. They lived in a number of different places until 1940 when they moved from Ytra-Malland on Skagi to Saurkrkur.

At an early age Gurn started to write stories. Part of her first novel, Dalalf (Valley Life), was written before she was married, but she then put her writing aside until she moved to Saurkrkur. The first volume of Valley Life was published in 1946, when shewas 59, after which she published a book a year, with the exception of one year, until 1973: a total of 27 books. The last was published when she was 86 years old.

The composer/organist
Eyr Stefnsson (1901-1999) grew up in Saurkrkur. His parents were Stefn Sigursson, fisherman,and his wife Gurn Jnasdttir. Eyr was the youngest of six children. At the age of 18 he acquired a small organ (harmonium), and taught himself to play. In 1928 he studied organ and acting in Reykjavk. Eyr married Sigrur Anna Stefnsdttir in 1936.

At the age of 11 Eyr started to sing in the local church choir, and in 1929 he was appointed organist and choirmaster of Saurkrkur church, and he remained in that post until 1972. In addition he conducted many other choirs and was involved in a wide range of social activities. He was one of those who re-established the Saurkrkur Drama Society in 1941, and he acted and directed there until 1976. He taught singing at the Saurkrkur Primary/Lower Secondary School 1948-1972 and was principal of the Skagafjrur Music College 1965-1974. Eyr was nationally-known as a composer, and his oeuvre includes many classic songs, such as Lindin (The Spring) and Bikarinn (the Goblet). He also made choral arrangements of many songs, and arranged pieces for voices and musical instruments. Eyr was awarded the Knight Grand Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon for his contribution to cultural life in Saurkrkur.

The painter
Jhannes Geir Jnsson (1927-2003) grew up in Saurkrkur. His parents were teacher Jn . Bjrnsson and his wife Geirlaug Jhannesdttir. Jhannes Geir was the seventh of their ten children. He studied at the Icelandic School of Arts and Crafts (forerunner of the Iceland Academy of the Arts) 1946-1948, and in 1948-1949 he studied at the Royal Academy of Arts in Copenhagen.

Jhannes Geir was a respected painter, but in his early career his art was shunned by the abstract artists of the time. He was a leading practitioner of expressionism in Iceland, and also took a keen interest in Icelandic history and nature. In his later years Jhannes Geir focused on Icelandic landscape and the topography of his home town, imbuing his subjects with strong colours. Among his best-known pieces are what he calls memory images, drawings and pastels from 1964-1970. Another major achievement is his series, on display here, which he called In the Territory of the Sturlung Clan in Skagafjrur.Here he portrays the events of the Sturlung Age in the 13th century, when Iceland was torn by civil war, and gives them visual form, on the basis of the writings of contemporary chronicler Sturla rarson.

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Short Distance Everywhere

Akureyri - Skagafjrur 118 km

Reykjavik - Skagafjrur 290 km

Egilsstair - Skagafjrur 383 km

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