Today, the first day of summer in Iceland, a festive ceremony was held to mark the occasion of the opening of Veröld – hús Vigdísar and the inauguration of the Vigdís International Centre for Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding. The new building will house this UNESCO Category 2 Institute; dedicated to promoting knowledge in foreign languages and encouraging greater understanding between cultures. An exhibition on the works and interests of the main instigator of the house, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, former President of Iceland was also opened in the new house.
The new building on University campus received the name Veröld – hús Vigdísar (e. The World – House of Vigdís) earlier this week after a contest among the general public. The house, furthermore, provides facilities for lectures and conferences, work facilities for guest researchers, and teaching and research in the foreign languages taught at the University of Iceland. There is, furthermore, an exhibition room in the house and a space dedicated to the election of Vigdís Finnbogadóttir as President of Iceland on 29 June 1980.
A united effort of many
Just over two years ago, on the International Women’s Day, the ground was broken for the new building. The corner stone was consequently laid on the Icelandic Women’s Rights Day 19 June 2016. Even though this project received favourable response from the beginning, it is not least for the diligence and commitment of Madame Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, President of the Republic of Iceland (1980-1996) and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Languages, and the Institute’s employees that the house for languages has become a reality. Numerous individuals, companies and organisations have provided financial support; and the project has, furthermore, received generous support from the Icelandic government, the City of Reykjavík and the University of Iceland Lottery.
Ceremony dedicated to language at the University Cinema
To mark the occasion of the opening of the house today, the first day of summer in Iceland, a grand cultural feast was set up to celebrate languages. The ceremony was entitled “Language Open Up Worlds” and the programme included numerous Icelandic artists and choirs who performed in many languages. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Languages, Irina Bokova Director-General of UNESCO, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, President of Iceland, Rogmor Dam, Faroese Minister of Education and Culture, Auður Hauksdóttir, Director of the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute, Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland, Mònica Pereña, President of Linguapax International and Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, Writer and Director of the University of Iceland Art Collection addressed the guests at the ceremony.
Guests walked over to the new building after the programme where Vigdís Finnbogadóttir and Jón Atli Benediktsson greeted them. An exhibition was opened at the inauguration, „SAMTAL – DIALOGUE“ the opening exhibition in new building’s gallery. The exhibition paints a portrait of the work and interests of Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, former President of Iceland. Exhibits are in the private possession of Vigdís Finnbogadóttir who cordially lent them during the exhibition. The exhibition is set up in collaboration with Auður Hauksdóttir, Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir and Ástríður Magnúsdóttir.
– 16 May 2012. The architects Arkitektúr.is won the design contest for the the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages and the Vigdís International Centre for Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding.
– 27 June 2013. An agreement was signed in Paris between the Icelandic government and UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization, stating the certification of the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute. The agreement is between the Icelandic government and UNESCO.
– 08 March 2015. Breaking ground for a new building on campus. Constructions began a few weeks later.
– 19 June 2016. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, former President of Iceland and Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland, laid the cornerstone of the new building.
– 20 April 2017. The inauguration at a festive ceremony.