Memorial to an Eruption (Museums in Strange Places S01 E19)

On January 23, 1973, residents of the island town of Vestmannaeyjar in Iceland were woken from sleep by the sounds of a huge fissure ripping open the earth. The Eldfell volcanic eruption that followed forced everyone to evacuate the island for six months. By the time the eruption stopped, 400 homes were covered by lava and the rest of the island was covered in ash. In this episode, I hike up the Eldfell volcano and visit Eldheimar, a state-of-the-art museum of remembrance built 40 years after the eruption.

Music in this episode is “Þeir vaka yfir þér” by Soffía Björg. Sound credits: 1, 2

 

This episode is sponsored by Locatify. Locatify is an Icelandic software company specializing in mobile apps that use location technologies for Immersive audio guides, treasure hunt games, Augmented Reality and indoor GPS.

 

How to Listen to Museums in Strange Places

Welcome to Museums in Strange Places. I’m your host, Hannah Hethmon, and this is a podcast for people who love museums, stories, culture, and exploring the world.

In this season of the podcast, I’m visiting the museums of Iceland to discover what stories they hold and how they reflect and shape Iceland’s unique cultural identity.

The podcast is hosted by me, Hannah Hethmon, an American Fulbright Fellow living in Reykjavík. You can find and follow me on Twitter and Instagram @hannah_rfh.

The Museums in Strange Places podcast is available on your favorite podcast listening platforms (Did I miss one you like? Let me know!):

Images and Video of the Eldfell Eruption

(Photo by Elisabeth Andanson/Sygma via Getty Images)
The town after the eruption. July 24, 1974. Christian Bickel CC SA 2.0
Image via eldheimar.is
Workers trying to slow the flow of lava using water. Image via eldheimar.is.
Image via eldheimar.is
Image via eldheimar.is
Photos taken in 1973 by Knud Bach Madsen from Vanløse, Denmark, of the eruptions on Heimaey, Iceland.

Photos of Eldheimar

Eldheimae
Eldheimar
The house at the center of the museum: Gerðisbraut 10
The house at the center of the museum: Gerðisbraut 10
The house at the center of the museum: Gerðisbraut 10
The house at the center of the museum: Gerðisbraut 10
A wheel that you can manually turn to watch the progression of the lava flow over the six months.
In the main exhibit
In the main exhibit
In the main exhibit
In the main exhibit

Eldheimar
Partially excavated home outside Eldheimar
A sandbox where kids can excavate and uncover homes buried in the ash.
Dröfn Ólöf Másdóttir
A view of the volcano from the museum window.
Upstairs secondary exhibit on Surtsey, the island that rose from the sea 9 years before the Eldfell eruption.
Fire-fighting tools used by emergency workers during the eruption
An image outside the cemetery on Heimaey shows it covered in ash with the eruption in the background.
The cemetery today.

Photos of the Vestmannaeyjar/ Westman Islands

The town on Heimaey, the only inhabited island in the Westman Islands, as seen from the top of the Eldfell volcano.
The town on Heimaey, the only inhabited island in the Westman Islands, as seen from the top of the Eldfell volcano.
The lava fields created by the 1973 eruption, as seen from the top of the Eldfell volcano.
Town of Vestmannaeyjar
Town of Vestmannaeyjar

   

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