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The origins of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in New York date back to 1956 when an information agency on Italy and Italian culture operated out of the Italian Consulate. In 1958, when the Italian government acquired the building at 686 Park Avenue (adjacent to the Italian Consulate building), the Agency moved into the new prestigious office, our current location, and in 1961 Istituto Italiano di Cultura was opened.

The Institute is a neo-Federal style building constructed in 1916, by the architects Delano & Aldrich. The five-floor structure with a terrace and an interior garden is a New York city landmark along with the other buildings that face onto the same stretch of Park Avenue between 68th and 69th Streets. Besides the Italian Consulate at 690 Park Avenue (built in 1917 by architects Walker & Gillette), the Spanish Institute at no. 684 and the Americas Society at no. 680 make up this group.

Originally, the Cultural Institute worked in close collaboration with Casa Italiana of Columbia University, the oldest institution representing Italian culture in New York, inheriting part of the Italian book and newspaper collection previously housed in Casa Italiana’s Charles Paternò Library.

For nearly 12 years, from 1964 to 1976, the Institute’s activities, under the direction of Prof. Giuseppe Cardillo, carried essentially on those connected to the information agency: bibliographical information; cataloguing of newspaper and magazine articles; strong connections with the community of Italian origin in New York; the publication of periodical news bulletins. A different approach was taken subsequently, with a greater attention to the organization of cultural and social events, the creation of cultural services for the promotion of Italian language and culture, and the establishment of steady relationships with the city’s major cultural institutions.

The new regulation of the Italian Cultural Institutes (L. 401 of December 29, 1990) provided for New York and few other select Institutes the appointment of prominent personalities of Italian culture as directors.

List of Directors of the Italian Cultural Institute in New York:

  • Giuseppe Cardillo
  • Marco Miele
  • Lia Beretta
  • Ivano Marchi
  • Ennio Troili
  • Gianclaudio Macchiarella
  • Furio Colombo
  • Nives Mutti
  • Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi
  • Paolo Riani
  • Antonio Cosenza
  • Claudio Angelini
  • Renato Miracco
  • Riccardo Viale
  • Giorgio van Straten
  • Paolo Barlera
  • Fabio Finotti
1964 – 1976
1976 – 1982
1982 – 1984
1984 – 1986 (addetto reggente)
1986 – 1988 (addetto reggente)
1988 – 1991
1991 – 1994
1994 – 1996 (addetto reggente)
1996 – 2000
2000 – 2002
2002 – 2003 (addetto reggente)
2003 – 2007
2007 – 2009
2010 – 2014
2015 – 2019
2019 – 2020 (addetto reggente)
2021 – Current Director