As the excitement builds for what is set to be a new chapter of Reykjavík’s art scene, trendy cafés and shops have sprung up alongside the road leading to the harbor. And even though the city has imposed a strict ban on hotels in the area, one is left wondering about the long-term effects of regeneration and the possibility of soaring rents for the artist-led initiatives.
“The City of Reykjavík is committed to investing in arts and culture,” said Dagur B. Eggertsson, the city’s mayor. “We are certain that the new neighbors will further strengthen the development in and around the old harbor district, where we now have a perfect harmony of residential area, fishing industry, small and medium businesses, culture, and art.”
The next 15 years (the duration of the current lease) will be telling for the Marshall House occupants, and the Reykjavík art scene at large. “We don’t know how the cultural landscape will evolve in the next 15 years,” Ólafsdóttir said. “Maybe if a lot of puffin shops pop up, this end of the area wouldn’t be as exciting for us!” she joked, nodding to the ubiquitous souvenir shops filled with stuffed toy birds found across the city center’s streets.
Puffins or not, there’s reason to celebrate the Marshall House, a new symbol of Reykjavík’s persistence in supporting its artists through innovative, bold initiatives.