Árni Magnússon Institute Receives ISK 200 Million Grant

Árni Magnússon

The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies has received a grant of ISK 200 million [$1.5 million / €1.3 million] from the Danish A.P. Møller Fund. The grant was awarded in support of the Archive Arnamagnæana project, which aims to create a digital database of ancient letters and documents.

The Árni Magnússon collection

As noted in an article by IR staff writer Jelena Ćirić, the Arnamagnæan Manuscript Collection, located at two institutions in Iceland and Denmark, is on UNESCO’s Memory of the World register.

It was established by Árni Magnússon (1663-1730), who travelled widely across Iceland collecting vellum manuscripts and books stretching back to the 12th century. “On his deathbed, he bequeathed his collection to the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Iceland was a Danish colony at the time, and it was the only university in all the territories of the Danish kingdom.”

Between 1971 and 1997, about half of the collection was returned to Iceland, where it has been kept at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies. The 3,000 items in the collection are considered invaluable sources on the history and culture of mediaeval, renaissance, and early modern Scandinavia and Europe as a whole. The sagas they contain, a uniquely Icelandic narrative genre, are still translated and read around the world today.

Read More: Open Books, Iceland’s Priceless Manuscript Collection Has a New Home

Digitising the collection

In a press release yesterday, the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies announced that it had received a grant of ISK 200 million [$1.5 million / €1.3 million] from the Danish A.P. Møller Fund (full name: the A.P. Møller and Hustru Chastine Mc-Kinney Møllers Fond til almene Formaal).

The A.P. Moller Foundation is a Danish philanthropic commercial foundation established in 1953 by the Danish shipping magnate, and founder of the A.P. Møller-Maersk Group, A.P. Møller. The A.P. Moller Foundation receives 1,600 applications annually and supports approximately 500 projects every year.

The grant was awarded in support of the Archive Arnamagnæana project, which aims to create a digital database of ancient letters and documents, copies of ancient letters, and letter collections from the Árni Magnússon collection. The project will be a collaboration between scholars at Den Arnamagnænske Samling in Copenhagen, the National Archives in Oslo, and the National Archives of Iceland, all of which preserve parts of the Árni Magnússon’s collection.

Digital photographs of all documents will accompany their listing and references to printed versions where applicable. Þórunn Sigurðardóttir, a research professor at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, will lead the project.

As noted in the press release: “These ancient letters are among the most important sources that can be found on the history of Iceland, Denmark, and Norway from the Middle Ages until the eighteenth century; in most cases, the letters contain information relating to where and when they were written. The collection as a whole is about 6,000 original letters, over 10,000 transcriptions of original letters (some of which have not been preserved), as well as a number of document and letter collections.”

“Although the ancient documents usually come from the official administration of the Danish-Norwegian Kingdom,” the press release continues, “they also contain information about the lives and circumstances of ordinary people. They, therefore, give us an insight into a long-gone world.”

The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies is an independently funded academic research institute at the University of Iceland, operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Business Affairs. Its role is to conduct research in the field of Icelandic studies and related scholarly disciplines, in particular, Icelandic language and literature; to disseminate knowledge in these fields, and to preserve and augment the collections entrusted to its care.

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake in Mýrdalsjökull Glacier Last Night

Earthquakes in Mýrdalsjökull

A swarm of earthquakes struck South Iceland’s Mýrdalsjökull glacier last night. No evidence of volcanic activity has been found, a natural hazards expert with the Icelandic MET Office confirmed to Mbl.is this morning.

No evidence of volcanic activity

A swarm of earthquakes was registered in South Iceland’s Mýrdalsjökull glacier last night, with more than 70 earthquakes recorded since the initial tremor at 1.18 AM, Mbl.is reports. Bjarki Kaldalóns Friis, a natural hazards expert from the Icelandic MET office, anticipates ongoing seismic fluctuations in the region.

“The initial swarm lasted approximately 45 minutes, followed by a brief pause before resuming. Since 1 AM last night, approximately 70 earthquakes have been recorded. Among them, five registered above magnitude 3, with the largest measuring 4.4 magnitude at 2:45 AM. Notably, there is no evidence of volcanic activity or similar phenomena,” he added. Bjarki also mentioned that seismic activity was felt in populated regions, particularly in Þórsmörk.

“The swarm is related to a geothermal system situated beneath the Mýrdalsjökull glacier; we’re not expecting an eruption or anything like that,” Bjarki remarked, adding that there was nothing to indicate an increase in electrical conductivity or water level.

Bjarki also highlighted the possibility of geothermal water leakage occurring at the Markarfljót or Múlakvísl rivers due to the ongoing activity. Nevertheless, current measurements show no evidence of heightened electrical conductivity or of water level changes.

“This activity in Mýrdalsjökull has been ongoing for several weeks, representing a continuation of the same pattern possibly linked to the geothermal systems beneath the glacier,” Bjarki explained. “It’s not over, as seismic activity tends to fluctuate,” he added.

New Íslandsbanki CEO Aims to Restore Trust: “Challenging Times”


The new CEO of Íslandsbanki, Jón Guðni Ómarsson, has stated that his priority is to restore trust in the bank. In an interview with RÚV yesterday, he admitted that the mood among the bank’s employees, following recent events, and in light of the public discourse, has been fraught.

“Challenging times”

On Wednesday morning, Birna Einarsdóttir, CEO of Íslandsbanki, announced her decision to step down. Birna’s resignation came on the heels of Íslandsbanki agreeing to pay a fine of ISK 1.2 billion [$8.8 million, €8.1 million] due to “serious and systematic violations” during the sale of the state’s 22.5% stake in the bank in March of last year.

At the same time, Íslandsbanki announced that Jón Guðni Ómarsson would be replacing Birna as CEO. “Naturally, these are very challenging times,” Jón Guðni told RÚV yesterday. “We need to throw ourselves back into our daily work and focus on taking care of our customers as well as we can.”

As noted by RÚV, Jón Guðni has been with Íslandsbanki for nearly two decades and served as the finance manager since 2011. Jón Guðni told RÚV that he did not participate in the sale of the government’s share in the bank. “I was introducing the bank to investors. Regarding the sale itself and the bank’s involvement in it, I did not take part.”

Jón admitted that the mood among employees, following recent events, and in light of the public discourse, has been fraught. “It has, of course, been a big shock for the employees and some customers, as well. It’s something we take very seriously and will take time to address; that’s the task that lies ahead.”

Rebuilding trust a priority

Jón Guðni admitted that he had not expected Birna Einarsdóttir to step down following the bank’s settlement with the Financial Supervisory Authority of the Central Bank (FME). This having been the case, however, it was now necessary to start repairing the bank’s reputation.

“First of all, we need to throw ourselves into implementing these changes that are requested in the agreement with the Central Bank.” One of the first issues under consideration is whether further personnel changes need to be made, although “no decisions have been made,” according to Jón Guðni. Other changes are yet to be revealed.

According to Jón Guðni, the priority is to restore customers’ trust in the bank. “First of all, it will take some time. We just need to dedicate ourselves to the project and implement these requirements requested by the Central Bank. All in all, we must show humility and roll up our sleeves,” Jón Guðni observed.

As noted by RÚV, FME’s report concluded that many of the things that went wrong at Íslandsbanki during the sale were to be ascribed to the bank’s corporate culture. Jón Guðni believes that a lot can be learned from the report while maintaining that the bank’s corporate culture is strong: “The risk and corporate culture in the bank is very strong in many respects. We simply need to ensure that this culture extends fully to all of the bank’s activities.”