Cultural Heritage Legend Þórður Tómasson Dies at 100

From the Open Air Museum at Skógar.

From the Open Air Museum at Skógar. Photo/Skógar Museum

Vala Hafstað

Þórður Tómasson, the founder and long-time director of Skógar Museum, South Iceland, has passed away at the age of 100, reports.  He died January 27 at the Health Care Institution of South Iceland.

Skógar Museum is likely known to many of our readers. It is a cultural heritage collection of 18,000 regional artifacts, exhibited in six historical buildings and three museums – the Folk Museum, the Open Air Museum and the Technical Museum. Þórður served as the museum’s director for seven decades and, in the words of one of our readers, he was “the greatest tourist attraction ever in South Iceland.”

Þórður Tómasson.

Þórður Tómasson.Árni Sæberg

Þórður was born at the farm Vallatún, South Iceland, April 28, 1921— the son of farmers. At the age of 14, he began collecting artifacts, such as tools and various items used by farmers.

In the 1940s, he started traveling South Iceland, collecting old tools and items. Skógar Museum opened in 1949. In addition to collecting regional artifacts, Þórður wrote numerous books about cultural history — the last one of which was published on his 100th birthday.

Þórður Tómasson, with his sister Guðrún, in 2020. To the …

Þórður Tómasson, with his sister Guðrún, in 2020. To the right is Margrét Hallgrímsdóttir, director of the National Museum of Iceland.

Þórður was self-educated and spoke numerous languages. He dedicated his life to preserving our cultural heritage. In addition, he is known for being a superb guide, quick and agile well into his old age. On his 100th birthday , it was noted that is memory remained exceptional.

He served as the organist of Ásólfsskálakirkja and Eyvindarhólakirkja churches and was known for playing music on his harmonium for guests, choosing a tune from each visitor’s country.

Þórður never married and had no children. For a long time, he lived at Skógar with his sister Guðrún and her family. His funeral will be private, according to his wishes.


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