The Árni Magnússon Institute in Iceland is an academic research institution that houses the manuscripts and documents that the Danish government delivered to the Icelanders according to an agreement made between Denmark and Iceland in 1971, concerning the return of Icelandic manuscripts from Danish libraries. The Institute also keeps other resources on Icelandic culture: other manuscripts that it has acquired, as well as recordings of folkloric material. By law the Institute has been given the task of advancing the study of Icelandic language, literature, and the history of the Icelandic nation from its origins until the present day.
The main part of the Árni Magnússon Institute’s manuscript collection consists of manuscripts that were previously kept in Danish libraries: the Árni Magnússon Collection (Den Arnamagnæanske Samling), housed at the University of Copenhagen, and the Danish Royal Library. During the years 1971-1997, 1,666 manuscripts and manuscript fragments kept in the Árni Magnússon Collection, as well as all old Icelandic public records and copies of such records (a total of 7,287 documents), along with 141 manuscripts from the Danish Royal Library, were transferred to Iceland.
The Institute houses other manuscripts besides those that were sent from Denmark. The best known of these is the Skarðsbók collection of apostles’ lives, a vellum manuscript from the 14th century, which several Icelandic banks bought at an auction in London and donated to the Institute in 1965. Numerous manuscripts and manuscript fragments have been donated to the Institute from private collections, and during recent years the Institute has, with the support of benefactors, bought several Icelandic manuscripts that have been put up for sale abroad. The most significant and generous contributions have been made by Dr. Örn Arnar, Icelandic consul in Minnesota, and his family.