heritage | alinari archives
The photographic holdings of Alinari
The photographic holdings of Alinari are defined in consistency and quality by art. 55 of regional law no. 65/2019, and can be divided into the analogical holdings and digital holdings.
The digital holdings consist mainly of the archive of over 250,000 digitised photographic images explore the database, with the relative databases and management systems. The images reproduce photographs – and in particular positives – belonging to Alinari funds and collections.
The analogical holdings, one of the largest collections of photographic documentation in the world, consists, according to the estimates of the Soprintendenza Archivistica e Bibliografica della Toscana, of an overall total of over 5 million photographic items, many of which unique, dating from 1840 to the present day.
The collection consists of three main nuclei:
- a. photographic material: positives, prints and photographic albums, negatives on both glass plates and film, incunabula (daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, ferrotypes, and other unique objects), as well as a nucleus of photo libraries, or photographic prints for consultation taken from the negatives of the historical archives (Alinari, Brogi, Anderson, Mannelli, Fiorentini, Chauffourier).
- b. bibliographical material: an immense specialised library consisting of volumes, magazines and rare books, originating from different sources and considered to be among the most significant libraries in the sector in Italy and abroad.
- c. instrumental material: photographic equipment, historical studio equipment, accessories and technical instruments that testify in various ways to the use and practice of photography.
In addition to the archival nucleus, there is also the collection linked to the activity of the Stamperia d'Arte Alinari, which conserves negatives, prints, commercial catalogues, as well as machinery, including a rare machine for collotype printing (a hand-printing technique).
There is also a selection of objects of various materials and formats documenting the use of the photographic image as a decorative element in craft production from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century.
The entire holding is currently stored in the storage facilities of the Art Defender company in Calenzano, arranged in maximum-security warehouses.
The checking of the material integrity of the acquired holdings is currently under way, as per the dispositions of regional law no. 65/2019.
Fratelli Alinari, Entrance gate to the Villa Fabbricotti in Florence, 1894, glasse plate negative 21x27 cm, Alinari Archives, Florence.
This is a temporary location for the archives while awaiting a move to Villa Fabbricotti in Via Vittorio Emanuele II in Florence, a building earmarked for the conservation and consultation of the Alinari holdings.
Owned by the Tuscany Region Region, the villa will be adapted to its new function as an archive, and for this reason collaboration has already begun with the Soprintendenza Archivistica e Bibliografica della Toscana and with the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, to establish what features the building will need to offer in order to assure the conservation of the holdings and enable them to be used in the best possible way.