Scope of Collection
When the Institute was founded at the end of the 19th century, the first aim of its new Library was to build up a collection of literature on Italian art and culture. Emphasis was thereby placed upon Florence in the Renaissance era, in which field holdings were to be as extensive and complete as possible. Particular care and attention was devoted to the acquisition of historical source texts, topographical literature, artist monographs and exhibition catalogues. Before long, however, the Library had broadened both its geographical and its historical focus well beyond the bounds of Florence and the Renaissance. This change is reflected in the completely new shelf classification system that was devised in 1912 and which remains largely in place today.
The Library's holdings today cover the history of European art and culture, focusing on Italy, from Late Antiquity to the present day. Increasingly, however, they now concentrate upon topics relating to the intercultural, international, intercontinental and interdisciplinary contextualization of Italian art. The boundaries with neighboring disciplines such as history, philosophy and general aesthetics, literary studies, history of religion, social history, and history of science, as well as areas of knowledge such as urban studies, media theory, cultural heritage and museology, are relatively fluid. Providing the pertinent literature consequently poses a particular challenge, which the Library addresses both with new acquisitions and with increased access to electronic media.
Particular mention should be made of the Library's specialist collections, built up intensively over many years, of historical source texts, including copies of every art-historically relevant edition of Vasari's Vite, original works of Futurism, topographical literature on Central and Upper Italy, and monographs and exhibition catalogues relating to Italian artists right up to the present. In line with the Institute's research activities, the Library is also expanding its sections on "Art and Cultural History of the Mediterranean" and "History and Theory of Photography" with a careful programme of acquisitions.