The Photographic Archives

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The Bank of Italy's photographic archives acquire, conserve and catalog photographs and make them available to consultation, in conformity with the laws protecting intellectual property rights. They consist in images produced or acquired by the Bank in the course of its activities that are passed on to the Historical Archives once they are no longer actively required.

In 1997 a survey covering the various units and the staff of the Bank resulted in the acquisition of a large number of photographs as the initial core of the collection. Thanks to the systematic acquisition of photographs in the course of the ordering and cataloguing of the Archival fonds, the collection now amounts to over 13,000 photos, contact sheets and albums of positives, plus a small number of negatives on film and plates. Many pictures are of events at the Bank, such as the annual Shareholders' Meeting, conferences, visits and official ceremonies; others document significant historical events, such as the recovery of the store of gold seized by the Germans during the Second World War and its delivery back to the Bank of Italy at Palazzo Koch. There are pictures of members of the Directorate (mostly on official occasions), of staff members at work and at the Bank's recreational facilities, and of prominent figures in the economy. A good part of the collection consists in pictures of the Bank's premises, including the foreign branches. There are also photographic reproductions of the art collection conserved at Palazzo Koch, plus documentation on the technical work of the police following the detection of counterfeiters' hideaways.

In conformity with the ministerial guidelines that accord photography the status of a branch of the cultural heritage in its own right, the Historical Archives have undertaken to protect, preserve and capitalize the Bank's photographic holdings. Restoration work has been done on the most delicate and worn photographs in the Archives, and the entire collection is in the process of being organized and catalogued. Digital reproduction of all the images is under consideration with a view to safeguarding the originals and facilitating consultation.

In the area of the enhancement and fruition of this particular type of source material, let us note the volume edited by Marina Miraglia: Il potere dell'immagine. A portrait of the Banca Nazionale in 1868, Rome-Bari, Laterza, 2003, document series, volume XIV. This particularly prestigious work contains all the photographs collected in an album produced in 1868 by one of the Bank of Italy's predecessor institutions, Banca Nazionale nel Regno, depicting the staff at that date, divided by office and branch. It is a rare and important page in the history of photography in Italy.