Safnasafnið (The New Folk and Outsider Art Museum) in Akureyri was created by Niels Hafstein; An Icelandic artist who is also one the founders of The Living Art Museum in Reykjavik. Much of my motivation for visiting came from reading the piece, ‘The Elliptical Path of Visual Art’ on the museum’s website.
It was closed for the winter when we arrived in town, but we thought we’d try our luck anyway as we were told Niels lives there all year round. We felt perhaps that we’d disturbed his peace when we knocked on the door, but he politely agreed to show the building. It was a beautiful large space: wood floorboards, natural light spilling through windows and views of the mountains and fjord. There was only a scattering of artworks in sight, really just a tease for the rest of the collection that I would have very much liked to see.
Niels explained to us that when he bought the building it had to be transported by truck from the nearby harbour. An entertaining story to try and visualise.
Upstairs we were shown the ‘guest apartment’ for visiting artists. It contained its own mini-museum, a cabinet full of miscellaneous objects. Old wood furniture with crocheted covers and a small, blue kitchen.
We asked our host where he recommended for us to eat in Akureyri, to which he replied that he never went to Akureyri, this seemed kind of incredible as it was a 5 minute drive from his house. But then we glimpsed his living quarters through a window in the library room and it was so beautifully and lovingly set up that, I hope I’m not being too quaint when I say it looked the image of happiness – and it seemed reasonable that he might never want to leave this place.
As we were escorted out Niels said to us,
“Well you can’t leave without being entertained”
Then positioning himself behind a bench, he pulled out a large box from underneath and proceeded to pull out a series of objects. They were a collection of magic tricks and children’s toys. One after the other he moved them through there respective uses. In the museum setting each object became like a small kinetic art-work.
Below is a spinning thing that particularly appealed,