The Fondazione Giorgio Cini was created in 1951 by Vittorio Cini to commemorate his son Giorgio, who had died tragically in an air crash on August 31,1949. The Foundation is the earliest example in Italy of a private organization whose principal aims included humanistic studies at a time when collective interest was focused on economics, science, and technology. Vittorio Cini’s decision to make the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore the setting for his Foundation was a remarkably inspired move.
In fact, by choosing the island as the headquarters of the Foundation and including its restoration and redevelopment among the Foundation’s statutory aims, Vittorio Cini made his creation an
heir to a centuries-old tradition: he gave it the historical role and vocation of the monastery whose legacy he wished to perpetuate.
The Foundation’s initial projects were focused on solving some of the urgent problems afflicting Italy and Venice in the postwar period. On the one hand, there was a need to train young people professionally and, on the other, there was a dearth of resources and facilities dedicated to scientific and cultural research. For these purposes, two institutions were created: the Centro Marinaro (Nautical Center) and the Centro Arti e Mestieri (Crafts and Trades Center). For many years these institutions provided hundreds of young men with professional training, especially for some of the more specific careers associated with the economic needs of the city. Around the same time, a Center for Culture and Civilization was created. It was dedicated to promoting high-standard scientific and academic events, such as international conferences focused on studying cultural, artistic, social, scientific and economic issues. Its activities also included organizing exhibitions and performances of plays and concerts.
Today the Fondazione Giorgio Cini is an internationally recognized cultural institution which continues to draw inspiration from its original vocation and at the same time plays a leading role as
a center for studies and a venue for meetings and debate on current issues. Its academic activities – research projects and events aimed at improving our “knowledge of the world” – continuously interact with thinking on the current political and social scene aimed at promoting multidisciplinary approaches and experimenting with exchanges between forms of knowledge and various scientific and professional cultures. The intention is thus also to provide innovative tools for analysis and comprehension, as well as propitious opportunities for “building a new world.”
The Fondazione Giorgio Cini is not only an invaluable store of literary, artistic, musical, and archive treasures, but also a crossroads for cultures and ideas and a place devoted to the quest for truth and the spread of knowledge, thus perpetuating the tradition of the Benedictine abbey and the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore. In line with the policy traced out by its founder, the Foundation has initiated a new strategy for the development of the island through the creation of the Vittore Branca International Center for the Study of Italian Culture.
The Center is dedicated to the memory of the great Italianist and the Foundation’s first Secretary General who, together with Vittorio Cini, was the main driving force of the Venetian institution in its first fifty years of activity.
The Vittore Branca Center is inspired by the great schools of the past and at the same time provides a place for meeting and study both for young researchers and senior scholars interested in furthering their knowledge in a field of Italian culture (especially the culture of the Veneto), such as the visual arts, history, music, literature, drama, the comparative civilisations and spritualities. With specially designed residential facilities on the Island of San Giorgio, the Vittore Branca Center offers scholars from all over the world the opportunity to work and
stay at length in Venice in a privileged setting particularly conducive to reflection and study. Thanks to the Branca Center, the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore and the Fondazione Giorgio Cini have strengthened their bonds in a mutual, inextricable relationship and have renewed their ultimate mission, which is to encourage the free circulation of ideas and knowledge and all forms of learning.