The Alinari Archive, with its over five million items from the 1840s to the present day, was purchased by the Region of Tuscany at the end of 2019. It is now under the management of the new Alinari Foundation (Fondazione Alinari), which has the scope of conserving and promoting the archive. Today, the foundation announced its new home and plans for the future, including a museum, although the location has yet to be determined.
The history of Fratelli Alinari
Fratelli Alinari was founded in 1852 as a photographic studio run by brothers Leopoldo, Giuseppe and Romualdo. Their laboratory in via Nazionale (now largo Alinari) is the oldest known in the world, lasting 150 years at that location. After the Second World War, the company had various owners until it was purchased by the Region of Tuscany in 2019 and placed under the management of the new foundation, which also succeeded in purchasing the digital archive of over 250,000 records from F.lli Alinari IDEA spa.
The Alinari Archive
The immense Alinari archive contains 5,020,916 photographic items across three sections: photographic material (positives, negatives, prints, albums, glass negatives, daguerreotypes and other original items); a vast library collection of photography-centric books, one of the best in the world in its genre; and instruments ranging from cameras to antique atelier props, technical materials and other relics of the art of photography over the past 150 years. The images in the archive are essential tools for the study of the evolution of Florence over the past century and a half; the photography collection also holds priceless records of key moments in Italy and around the world, images of artworks, and more.
At today’s press conference in Florence, the foundation’s president, Giorgio van Straten, spoke about the importance of conserving and sharing the Alinari legacy. He also announced that the foundation has already won national funding to the tune of 39,400.00 euro. The financing will be used to restore and digitalize 2,000 unique objects in the collection, a project that will be bolstered by additional funds from the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze.
The new home of the Alinari Foundation: Villa Fabbricotti
The new office and archive of the Alinari Foundation will be housed in Villa Fabbricotti (via Vittorio Emanuele II), which is owned by the Region of Tuscany. The villa, first documented in the fifteenth century, takes its current nineteenth-century appearance from Giuseppe Fabbricotti, who possessed a leading marble quarry in Carrara. Queen Victoria took up residence at Villa Fabbricotti when she visited Florence for three weeks in March 1894. The foundation is expected to move in within a year, when the archive will be transferred from its current storage in Calenzano.
Museums and exhibitions
While Villa Fabbricotti proved suitable for the archive and offices, the foundation is still searching for an appropriate home for a museum in order to share the works with the public. At the press conference, Tuscany’s regional president Eugenio Giani appealed to Florence’s municipal administration to find a location for the collection: “Perhaps in the Santa Maria Novella complex, next to the forthcoming museum of the Italian Language,” Giani suggested.
In the meantime, Fondazione Alinari director Claudia Baroncini explained that temporary exhibitions are in the works, starting with a two-year traveling exhibition of 121 photos by over 75 photographers. Italiae. From Alinari to the Masters of Contemporary Photography will be displayed in Italian cultural centers around the world beginning in summer 2021. Until then, the foundation’s website will host virtual shows, starting with the two launched today on Villa Fabbricotti and the Queen’s sojourn there.
All photos used with permission of Fondazione Alinari.