Medieval Icelandic Manuscripts Soon Housed in New Facility

Hús íslenskunnar

Construction of Hús íslenskunnar (The Icelandic House) will soon begin at the University of Iceland. The new building is intended to house the Árni Magnússon collection of medieval Icelandic manuscripts, and will feature specially-designed rooms for conservation, research, and exhibition of the artefacts.

“It’s a cause for celebration that the construction of the Icelandic House is beginning,” stated Minister of Culture and Education Lilja Alfreðsdóttir. “It is long overdue that a worthy building be constructed to preserve our manuscripts. They are one of the nation’s most remarkable treasures which are not only valuable to us but a part of the world’s literary history.” The Minister added that the cooling economy means it is a good time for the government to invest in public construction.

Government pays 70%

The Icelandic House will be built between Arngrímsgata and Suðurgata streets in Reykjavík by construction company ÍSTAK. ÍSTAK’s bid was the lowest of three proposals submitted to the Government Construction Contracting Agency, all of which were deemed feasible. The building is expected to cost ISK 6.2 billion ($50.7m/€45.2m), 70% of which will be financed by the federal government and 30% by the university.

Multipurpose building

The Icelandic House will not only feature specially-designed rooms for the conservation of the valuable manuscripts. The three-story construction, with an additional basement, will also include a library, café, lecture halls, and classrooms, covering an area of nearly 6,500m² (70,000ft²). The manuscripts are in the possession of the Árni Magnússon Institutue, which will have facilities in the new building, alongside the Icelandic and Cultural Departments of the University.

Fourteen years in the making

While the Icelandic Parliament originally decided to finance the project in 2005 – 14 years ago – the construction has since faced several delays. The results of a design contest for the building were presented in 2008. In 2013, then-Minister of Education and Culture Katrín Jakobsdóttir, now Prime Minister, officially inaugurated the project, and digging began on the lot. Between 2016-2018, however, the design was reviewed with the goal of making it more cost-effective. Construction is now expected to take three years.

Icelandic Women’s Rights Association Elects First Chairperson of Foreign Origin

The Icelandic Women’s Rights Association elected its first chairperson of foreign origin since its founding in 1907. Kjarninn reports new chairperson Tatjana Latinovic has been an activist and advocate for the rights of women and immigrants since moving to Iceland in 1994.

Tatjana has been on the board of the association and acted as vice-chair since 2015. She takes over her new position from Fríða Rós Valdimarsdóttir, who is stepping down as chair after four years in the role and eight years as a board member.

Tatjana is one of the founders of the Women of Multicultural Ethnicity Network (W.O.M.E.N) in Iceland and was also on the board of the Kvennaathvarf women’s shelter from 2004 to 2012. She is also the chair of the Immigrant Council and is the Women’s Rights Association’s representative on the Equality Council.

“The Icelandic Women’s Rights Association has a 112-year history in the struggle for equality. I am proud to have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of women who have acted as chair before me and I look forward to putting my mark on the continuing struggle for equal rights for everyone,” said Tatjana in her address at the association’s general meeting.

Björk’s Swan Dress Part of Met Museum’s Camp Exhibition

The famous “swan dress” that Björk wore to the 2001 Academy Awards is included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Camp: Notes on Fashion” exhibition, which will open on Thursday, following the New York institution’s annual Met Gala, often referred to as “the Oscars of Fashion.” RÚV reports that the famous frock will be exhibited alongside such iconic garments as the oyster dress that rapper Cardi B wore to the Grammy’s this year, Burberry’s rainbow cloak, and Balenciaga’s platform take on the Crocs clog, among others.

Björk wore the swan dress to the 2001 Academy Awards. That year, her song “I’ve Seen It All” from Lars von Trier’s film “Dancer in the Dark” was nominated for Best Original Song. Björk, who starred in the film, co-wrote the song with Icelandic author Sjón and recorded it with Radiohead singer Thom Yorke.

The swan dress was created by Macedonian fashion designer Marjan Pejoski. At the time, it was widely mocked. Journalist Jay Carr of The Boston Globe memorably remarked, for instance, that the “wraparound swan frock…made her look like a refugee from the more dog-eared precincts of provincial ballet.” It’s stood the test of time, however: Valentino debuted its own version of the dress as part of its Spring 2014 couture collection.

The theme of this year’s Met Gala and the related exhibit takes its inspiration from Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp.” The exhibition will be open to the public from May 9 to September 8 in New York City.