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PAT R O N S HRH The Prince of Wales KG, KT, GCB, OM, AK, QSO, ADC Cav.Wanda Ferragamo OBE HO N O R A RY P R E S I D E N T Christopher Prentice CMG G OV E R N O R S Ms Tessa Bamford Ms Beatrice Bargagli Stoffi Prof Paolo Blasi Dott Maurizio Bossi Mr Charles de Chassiron CVO Dott Diego di San Giuliano Mr Michael Griffiths OBE Mr Richard Jacques, Chairman Mr Michael Liversidge Mrs Moira Mcfarlane Ms Christine Melia Dr Martin Owen The Hon Lady Roberts CVO Mr Anthony Smith CBE Prof Alberto Tesi

The British Institute of Florence Lungarno Guicciardini 9 50125, Florence – Italy Tel: +39 055 2677 81 Email: Online donations: Registered Charity Number: 290647

cover image: Artist unknown, View of Florence from the garden terrace of the Pitti Palace, c.1924

THE BRITISH INSTITUTE OF FLORENCE In 2017, the British Institute of Florence will celebrate its centenary. For almost a hundred years we have occupied a special place in Florence’s vibrant cultural life, acting as a key educational resource and focus point between the city and its Anglophone visitors. In our next hundred years we want to build on this and be the first port of call for those wanting to learn about Italian art history, language and culture, or to experience the best of British culture. However, as a UK charity with no public funding since the 1920s, we depend on our supporters to continue to offer our cultural activities and fulfill our charitable objectives. As we approach our centenary we are launching a major appeal to ensure that our cultural heritage is protected and available for future generations to enjoy.

With your support we want to: • Better serve our students, local residents and visitors to Florence, by developing and extending our cultural programme, housed in the Harold Acton Library, the largest English language lending library in continental Europe • Improve access to UK students, through bursaries, to high quality tuition of art history, offering exceptional opportunities in the birthplace of the Renaissance • Continue to provide the highest quality language tuition in English and Italian • Make our unique archive, which preserves the extraordinarily rich stories of the Anglo Florentines, more accessible to the public through the continued employment of a professional archivist and the acquisition of new collections. Every donation helps and you can donate in different ways: • Online at • By post. Send the enclosed donation form to BIF100, British Institute of Florence, Lungarno Guicciardini 9, 50125 Firenze, Italy • In person. We welcome your visit so you can learn about what the British Institute has to offer first hand. You can contact us at or call us on +39 055 2677 81 to arrange a visit. Thank you for supporting the British Institute of Florence and we hope to welcome you to the Institute soon.

Sara Milne - Director, British Institute of Florence




The foundation of The British Institute of Florence in 1917 during the latter stages of the First World War, when understanding between the Allies was of vital importance, marked the fulfillment of an idea to create an institute which would be a testament to the long-standing tradition of British-Italian friendship and intellectual exchange as well as providing a vital and dynamic bridge between the two cultures. Among the group of Italian and British scholars and intellectuals who contributed to the Institute’s early years were Gaetano Salvemini, Arthur Acton and Lina Waterfield. In the 1920s and 1930s the Institute developed its language teaching facilities and in an agreement with the University of Florence became responsible for all its English language teaching, thus producing a generation of English language teachers for Italian schools. The library’s growth in the same period was largely thanks to donations from individuals and publishers. Summer Schools were organised, taking Italian students to London and bringing British students to Florence. In May 1940, following Italy’s entry into the war, the Institute was forced to close. In a letter to The Times published in July 1940, Janet Trevelyan spoke of ‘some far distant date’ when ‘in a different Italy’ the British Institute, with its ‘magnificent library’, ‘might still find work to do.’ And this it did. The Institute reopened formally in 1946, still complete with its library which had been protected during the war, and in the years that followed the Institute further developed its courses, in particular establishing its art history courses, and has continued to remain true to its original aims.

First housed in rooms in the then enclosed Loggia Rucellai in the Via della Vigna Nuova, then in Via de’ Conti, in 1923 the Institute moved to Palazzo Antinori in Via de’ Tornabuoni where it stayed for over forty years. The move to the Palazzo Lanfredini, in apartments generously made available by Sir Harold Acton, came in 1966. Teaching activities took place in Palazzo Feroni until 1998 when the Institute moved its language teaching to the Palazzo Strozzino where it remains today. The Institute received a Royal Charter in 1923 from King George V and was used as a model for the founding of the

British Council in the 1930s. The Institute’s objectives, defined in the 1923 Charter, were to ‘promote understanding between the citizens of Italy and the countries of the British Commonwealth through the maintenance in Florence of a library illustrating Italian and British culture, and the promotion of the study of both the English and Italian language and the cultures of both countries.’

cultural relations and exchanges between the UK and Italy.

2012 saw the sad closure of the British Consulate in Florence, one of the oldest consulates in the world. We recognise that there is now a need, more than ever before, for us to act locally as cultural ambassadors to promote

Supported by our patrons, HRH The Prince of Wales and Cav. Wanda Ferragamo, the British Institute can truly claim to have a bilateral mission and a crucial role in promoting cultural understanding between Italy and the UK.

The British Institute is a UK-registered Charity, operating under the Anglo-Italian Cultural Convention, and is governed by a Board of Governors that is currently chaired by Richard Jacques. The Director since March 2011 is Sara Milne, now also Honorary British Consul of Florence.

facing page: Lina Duff Gordon (on the left) and Madge Symonds at Poggio Gherardo in the 1890s. Waterfield Collection Letter, 1828, in the Maquay Collection

Letter, 1917, from Gabriele D’Annunzio to Sir Rennell Rodd, British Ambassador to Rome 1908-1919. British Institute Collections


W H AT W E D O The British Institute operates across two sites in central Florence. The cultural centre, archive and Harold Acton Library, and the art history department, are housed at Palazzo Lanfredini, overlooking the Arno, and the language school is in Piazza Strozzi, where we teach English and Italian. We enjoy close links with the city of Florence and the region of Tuscany, with representatives on our Governing body from the local Italian academic and business community, and historic support, both moral and financial, from local foundations, individuals and organisations. The language school is accredited as an educational provider by the region of Tuscany, has an ISO 9001 certified quality management system and is one of the University of Cambridge’s premier Platinum ESOL Examination Centres. The Harold Acton Library is continental Europe’s largest English language lending library. Its collections highlight art history (particularly Italian Renaissance), travel in Italy, history of the Italian Renaissance, British history, Italian, English and American literature, together with English (and some Italian) literary, art historical and current affairs journals from the mid-19th century onwards. The library collection includes rare books including a first Florentine edition of DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. In addition to a year-round programme of conferences and special events, the Institute hosts a regular Wednesday evening series of lectures and film screenings that are very well attended, and have become a staple of the Florence cultural scene.


Our literary and historical archive tells the story of the British in Florence, featuring the memoirs, correspondence, photographs and scrapbooks of Lucie Duff Gordon, Janet Ross, Lina Waterfield and Kinta Beevor, the Maquay family, Edward Hutton, Susan Horner, Edward Gordon Craig and Vernon Lee. The art history department offers a series of month-long courses on the Renaissance, as well as shorter hands-on courses on various thematic topics relevant to Florence, such as original fresco techniques. It also provides specialist courses for UK schools and universities, either on short trips or as a study abroad programme. We also offer the opportunity to take life drawing classes in a studio that preserves the atelier tradition in Florence. The British Institute receives on average 5,000 actual visitors per annum across both sites. Visitors can enrol on a course, use the library and archive, or attend a lecture, conference or other public event or film screening. We also receive around 75,000 virtual visits to our website annually.

OUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE The British Institute already has a strong reputation for its high quality educational services and for being a trusted guide to Italian arts and literary studies. We now want to highlight how dynamic, contemporary and creative British culture is as well. We are planning to do this in a number of ways

EVENTS We want to run more special events. For example we collaborated with the National Portrait Gallery, London to run an event at the British Institute on the art of contemporary portraiture. We hope in the future to bring other speakers from some of the UK’s leading cultural institutions to Florence, and arrange similar events in the UK to showcase Italian arts and culture. We want to host lectures and an exhibition in the UK, which will bring the work of the British Institute to life for those that have not yet visited us in person. We offer a wonderful location for conferences and need to develop our capacity to host more of these, such as our annual Shakespearean studies conference for PhD students throughout Italy.

SCHOLARSHIPS Florence is a unique city to study the Renaissance, and also the art and science of materials and techniques. We want to

facing page: Jacopo Pontormo, Deposition (detail), c. 1525-28, Church of Santa FelicitĂ , Florence

make our special study and research opportunities available to all, through a scholarship and bursary scheme.

A R T H I S TO R Y We have recently seen a 30% rise in attendance of our art history courses by diversifying our offer. We want to encourage that growth by becoming a centre of excellence for the study of art history for UK schools and universities. Beyond this, our thematic courses appeal to the international cultural tourist, and we need to develop more space and the facilities to deliver our lectures and hands-on workshops.


C U LT U R A L P R O G R A M M I N G Our regular Wednesday night lectures are a popular and long running series, having welcomed illustrious speakers such as Iris Murdoch, Gore Vidal, Edith Sitwell, Jonathan Miller and Alexander McCall Smith. We want to expand it by creating new types of programming. Debates, in-depth interviews with creative talent, film screenings and concerts could all be developed with greater resources. L A N G U AG E T E AC H I N G We want to invest in materials, staff and training to ensure

we stay abreast of new developments such as computerbased learning and examinations, as well as maintaining our reputation for excellence as one of the University of Cambridge’s top 150 teaching centres worldwide.

E N D OW M E N T F U N D We want to establish a fund, worthy of an institution of our pedigree and history, to ensure that future generations can benefit from what we have to offer and to ensure the efforts we put in now make the Institute sustainable for many years to come.


CENTENARY APPEAL Despite our successfully reaching our 95th year with almost no public funding, the British Institute has always worked hard to cover its outgoings with generated income. Even after costcutting measures, we now enjoy less than adequate provision in some key areas like marketing and fundraising; our cultural activities, archive and library are run on decreasing budgets; and our reserves are not sufficient to guarantee a secure future. While we have benefitted from the generous bequest, by the late Harold Acton, of apartments in the 15th century Palazzo Lanfredini to house our library and cultural centre, the property is costly to maintain and in need of substantial repairs. Today, an archive and a major library cannot be run on the surplus generated by teaching, however successful. We are unable to plan our future as we should, and safeguard our


reputation for excellence in Italo-British cultural life. The core administrative and management posts, the building and the research base of the British Institute, now need to be underpinned by permanent endowment, supplemented by constant fundraising. We are therefore seeking long-term funding for our cultural activities. This should not only cover existing operating costs, but permit growth and first class professional development of our educational and cultural offerings. We are launching this Centenary Appeal with the aim of securing a sound financial standing for the British Institute by 2017 and believe that we need to raise ÂŁ5 million pounds to achieve this in the next five years.

W AY S T O S U P P O R T U S D O N AT E N OW You can donate straight away online by going to: B E N E FAC TO R S Become a Benefactor of the British Institute. By agreeing to make a one-off donation or regular payment of £1000 or more per annum (or £83 month by direct debit) you will receive exclusive privileges: • Lifelong membership of the Harold Acton Library • Invitations to two special events a year - the Harold Acton lecture in London and a Benefactors’ Secrets of Florence city tour, as well as priority booking for other special events • Regular newsletter on British Institute events • Discount on British Institute courses and workshops • Discounted accommodation in central Florence (subject to availability) C O R P O R AT E PA R T N E R S H I P The British Institute has much to offer businesses interested in supporting the arts. By becoming a corporate partner you can enjoy a range of benefits such as: • Use of the Institute rooms for a corporate event • Membership of the Harold Acton Library for staff • Discount for British Institute courses


T R U S T S A N D F O U N DAT I O N S Grants from trusts and foundations have made possible many of the Institute’s previous projects in the library and archive and we welcome opportunities to participate in new grant-giving applications. L E G AC I E S Another way to help the Institute is by leaving a donation in your will. If you have already made a will and would like to add a bequest to the British Institute of Florence, please send notifications or enquiries in confidence to Martin Owen, the Treasurer (Tel: +44 (0)7949 615388) or at If you are a UK taxpayer we can reclaim the basic rate of tax on your gift at no additional cost to you. All you need to do is sign the gift aid declaration on the donation form or give us your permission over the phone. Non UK taxpayers can still donate using the donation form. Thank you for supporting the British Institute of Florence’s Centenary Appeal and we welcome your feedback on how you would like to see us evolve.

Printed on 100% recycled paper

graphic design:

British Institute of Florence Centenary brochure  
British Institute of Florence Centenary brochure