Over the years the photo archive of the Federico Zeri Foundation has steadily increased. The main nucleus was Federic Zeri’s exceptional collection of 290,000 photos, to which various other sets have been added, all documenting works of art. The resource has thus grown until its present size of 435,000.

In its first ten years of life the Foundation photo library coincided with the collection Federico Zeri donated to Bologna University in 1998.

The Zeri Collection  (Fondo Zeri) was perfectly ordered, compact and finished – a rarity among photo archives of its kind. It stemmed from Zeri’s painstaking classification and reorganization over a large part of his career.

In 2003 there began the cataloguing project designed to enhance the value and safeguard this extraordinary material. It was a combined operation: historical and critical research, description in cataloguing terms and employment of new technology.

The ensuing online database has enabled this archive to be consulted via the Web and has brought the bequest and the Foundation’s activities to world knowledge, extending well beyond the select art historian user.

Since 2008 scholars, photographers, collectors and antiquarians have donated their own photograph collections to the Foundation archive.

Though inferior in number and quality to Zeri’s, such materials are a welcome addition to documentation and provide some major new insights for those studying the connections between history of art and photography.

 The new additions to the Foundation are the focus of a project, Esplora i fondi (Explore the collections), which will lead to publication of an online databank of the same name, connected to the photo archive catalogue. This will enable the contents of all the sections of the photo archive to be explored.

With its present holding of 360,000 photos, the Federico Zeri Foundation aims to become something more than a repository for photo collections from people connected with history of art.