Minister of Culture Aims to Repatriate Icelandic Manuscripts Skip to content
Arnamagnaean Institute

Minister of Culture Aims to Repatriate Icelandic Manuscripts

The Icelandic government has authorised Minister of Culture Lilja Alfreðsdóttir to begin negotiations with Danish authorities on repatriating Icelandic manuscripts currently housed in Denmark. According to, the Minister believes Danish interest in these artefacts of cultural heritage is dwindling and the time has come to bring them back to Iceland.

Lilja visited the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies at the University of Iceland yesterday to view some manuscripts in their collection, including a poem written by the monk Eysteinn Ásgrímsson featuring a namesake of hers, Lilja. The Insititute at the University of Iceland has a counterpart in Denmark: the Arnamagnaean Institute at the University of Copenhagen. The Arnamagnaean Institute was founded to house the collection Icelandic scholar Árni Magnússon bequeathed the university at his death in 1730.

While a 1965 parliamentary ruling divided the important collection between Iceland and Denmark, the Danish Institute still houses many important original manuscripts from Iceland. In 2009, the Arnamagnaean Institute in Denmark was added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register is recognition of its historical value.

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