Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum of Kópavogur is a part of the Kópavogur Cultural Houses. The 600 m2 exhibition area is at the ground floor of the Museum house, which the museum shares with the Kópavogur Public Library.

The museum divides into two categories, geological and zoological. The geological part focuses on the formation of Iceland and the major  types of rocks and minerals. The zoological part focuses (with few exceptions) on Icelandic birds, mammals, fish and invertebrates. 

Currently it is not possible to request guidance from staff but guests are welcome to have a look around the museum during opening hours and here below you can find information about the animals found in the museum.


Iceland is very important for many species of birds. Large proportion of the world population of RazorbillsPuffins and Guillemots breed in Iceland, along with about 20% of European waders (such as GodwitGolden Plover and Whimbrel). Other birds such as the Red KnotBrent Goose and Barnacle Goose, stop here on the way to breeding grounds in Greenland and Canada to fuel up for the rest of the flight. Finally there are some species on the edge of their distribution areas, such as the Great Northern DiverHarlequin Duck and Barrows Goldeneye, which have no regular breeding grounds in Europe except Iceland.


Fish is of great economical value in Iceland and many species are found in Icelandic waters. Among them are the Cod (commercial) and the Salmon (sport and fish-farming). Other species such as the Deep-sea Angler and the Atlantic football fish are of special interest due to special adaptations for living at great depths, such as bioluminescence and parasitic males.


There are only three Icelandic land mammals and only the arctic fox is native. The other two, the mink and long-tailed field mouse were brought by humans. Sea mammals are quite more numerous and 23 species of whales have been seen in Icelandic waters. Of those species, 15 are regarded as common. Grey seal and harbour seal are common but 5 other species may be expected here.


Arthropods are animals that have an articulated body and an external skeleton made of chitin. Among them are crustaceans, insects and octopuses, or what many call colloquially “bugs”. Arthropods are the largest class of the animal kingdom and number about 1,000,000 species or 3/4 of all living species.

Molluscs and marine invertibrates

The museum hosts one of the best collection of shells (bivalves and snails) in Iceland. Over 200 species, found in and around Icelandic can be seen here. Specimens of foreign species are also on display. There are also specimens of crustaceans and echinoderms (starfishes and sea urchins). Some of those animals may also be seen alive in our sea-water aquarium, along with common fish species.


In the geology section of the museum, Iceland’s geology is presented in words and pictures. There is also a varied rock museum, where you can see samples of the country’s most common rock types, along with a variety of hole fillings, deposits and fossils. Below, we discuss certain issues and phenomena in Iceland’s geology, with an emphasis on what can be found here in the museum.

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