The Danish Institute in Rome

The Danish Institute in Rome

The objective of the Danish Institute in Rome is to preserve and develop cultural ties between Denmark and Italy. The Institute serves as an attractive and inspiring research and study centre, as well as providing a unique venue for concerts, exhibitions and conferences with Danish, Italian and international appeal. Since 1967, the Institute has been housed in a unique building in Valle Guilia donated by the Carlsberg Foundation, which for many years has supported the Institute through the provision of grants for research projects, scholarships and bursaries.

The Institute’s activities

The Institute fulfils its objective mainly by accommodating Danish researchers and artists studying in Italy. The primary research fields are: archaeology; philology; history; ecclesiastical, art, literary and music history; the visual arts; photography; architecture and music. Other scientific and artistic areas can also warrant a stay at the Institute. Among other things, together with the other Nordic institutes in Rome, the Danish Institute has initiated numerous archaeological excavations.

The Institute arranges workshops, symposiums, lectures, concerts and exhibitions connected with its own and its scholarship-holders’ research or artistic work. These activities, often collaborations with Danish and Italian institutions, are aimed at the international professional communities and Italian colleagues. Other events are carried out in conjunction with tutors of Danish at Italian universities for the benefit, in particular, of students of Danish and other Nordic languages. Most events, however, are open to anyone who is interested.

The Institute also has a research library comprising around 20,000 items (journals, books, sheet music, e-resources). The collection covers specialist areas within Antiquity (classical archaeology, history), philology (classical, medieval, humanistic), Italian topography, art history and music.

The Carlsberg Foundation and the Danish Institute

Ever since J.C. Jacobsen, founder of the Carlsberg brewery and the Carlsberg Foundation, travelled to Rome in the mid-1800s, the Carlsberg Foundation has enjoyed close ties with the Italian capital. The Brewer’s trips stimulated and inspired him both intellectually and culturally. His favourite destination was Rome, and he visited the beautiful city no less than eight times. The Brewer’s first trip to Rome was in 1862 with his son, Carl, then just 20 years old. In Rome, Carl was able to pursue his great passion for art, while his father enjoyed the abundance of historical monuments, art, beautiful scenery and unique streetlife.

J.C. Jacobsen died in Rome in 1876, and as early as 1896 the Carlsberg Foundation sent the first historian to Rome. Since then, the Foundation has supported a number of research projects in Rome and, in honour of the Brewer’s love of the city, invested in the development of cultural ties between Denmark and Italy. During the first half of the 1900s, the idea of a Danish Institute in Rome was discussed several times, inspired not least by the establishment of the Swedish Institute in Rome in 1926 – with support, incidentally, from both the Carlsberg Foundation and the New Carlsberg Foundation. After the Second World War, a start was made on realising the plans and, on the initiative of the Carlsberg Foundation, Denmark finally acquired its institute in Rome in 1956.

The Carlsberg Foundation has financed the building and fitting out of the Danish Institute’s home, supported Queen Ingrid’s Roman Foundation and provided various scholarships over the years. This has made it possible for a large number of researchers to enrich their studies by spending time in both Denmark and Rome. The researchers’ primary academic area is the humanities, including archaeology, philology, art, literature and theatre history.

Kay Fisker's building

The home of the Danish Institute in Rome was donated by the Carlsberg Foundation in 1961 to commemorate J.C. Jacobsen’s 150th birthday on 2 September. The internationally acclaimed architect Kay Fisker was commissioned with designing the building, which was officially opened on 24 October 1967 by King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid. Sadly, Kay Fisker died in June 1965 and never saw the finished building, but its striking architecture continues to attract increasing international attention. Besides the Carlsberg Foundation, the New Carlsberg Foundation also provided considerable support for the fitting out of the building and has since gifted various works of art.

Nearly 50 years old now, the building has been restored and converted on a number of occasions, most recently in 2014-15. This work was overseen by architect Bente Lange and financed with DKK 12m from the Carlsberg Foundation and the A.P. Møller Foundation, while the Danish Ministry of Culture contributed DKK 4m.

The home of the Danish Institute in Rome at Via Omero 18, designed by Kay Fisker.

Project funding, scholarships and bursaries

Over the years, the Carlsberg Foundation has supported a number of major research and excavation projects, including the excavation of a Roman villa by Lake Nemi south of Rome and the Cultural Encounter as a Precondition for European Identity project concerning the importance of Italian Renaissance humanism for Northern Europe.

Queen Ingrid was honorary president of the Danish Institute in Rome and set up Queen Ingrid’s Roman Foundation, which annually makes available a sum of money for the Institute’s board to fund scholarships, study trips and library acquisitions. Since 2011, H.M. Queen Margrethe II has been patron of the Institute. Every year, on the Queen’s birthday, 16 April, Princess Margrethe’s bursary is awarded for studies at the Danish Institute in Rome.

In 2011, the Carlsberg Foundation created a postdoc scholarship for research at the Danish Institute in Rome. In 2012, to mark the Queen’s 40th jubilee, the Foundation also set up Queen Margrethe II’s Rome Scholarship for studies in Roman archaeology.

In 2015, for the first time the Carlsberg Foundation awarded Queen Margrethe’s Roman Prize. The purpose of the prize is to strengthen and honour research carried out at or in connection with the Danish Institute in Rome. The prize was presented at the Institute’s annual party, with the recipient giving a speech, which was subsequently published in Analecta Romana Instituti Danici. The inaugural recipient of the prize was Associate Professor Lene Østermark-Johansen, Dr.Phil., honoured for her outstanding scientific endeavour in promoting the Italian Renaissance, including Michelangelo, in the United Kingdom.

The Danish Institute is an independent body under the auspices of the Danish Ministry of Culture, which covers its operating expenses. The day-to-day management of the Institute is carried out by its Director, Professor Marianne Pade, Dr.Phil.