Federico Zeri was the pioneer of art coverage on television, displaying unequalled talent as a communicator. His many programmes on the RAI exploring neglected and run-down corners of the Italian art heritage were an important chapter in his intellectual career.

In 2018 the Federico Zeri Foundation purchased a copy of extensive Rai Teche video documentation, composed of documentaries, interviewsprogrammes and  television appearances by Federico Zeri on the three RAI channels between 1974 and 1997. This much-needed new resource fills in the picture of a great scholar, critic and art historian.

Federico Zeri’s commitment to protecting heritage and territory, and his heartfelt civil engagement, found outlet in countless appearances on television and in the press. That vital part of his life and professional career saw him ever prepared to denounce scandals, old and new, and stress the need for urgent repair work, to the point where he became the critical conscience of the nation. Monuments, artworks, major and minor museums, all benefited from his still valid insights of genius and spellbinding raconteuring: a histrionic side to Zeri, unveiling the Italian heritage with unrivalled passion and cultural depth.

In 1993 Zeri was appointed vice-president of the National Council for the Cultural Heritage. His dogged daily battles still stand as a reminder that the art heritage needs to be defended, an essential part of our cultural identity. 

It was decided to purchase only a selection of his hundreds of television appearances now in the RAI Teche archives. The choice went to episodes in which he dominates as an art historian and connoisseur, discarding his lesser television roles.

Zeri’s extraordinary television ‘career’ was analysed in depth for the occasion (Federico Zeri in televisione (1974-1997) by journalist and television writer Nino Criscenti, who authored some of the Zeri programmes on the RAI, including Arte negata and Non solo Assisisi. 

These video documents may be viewed upon application to the Zeri Library and the Bologna University Bibloteca delle Arti sezione di musica e spettacolo.