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 Friends of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz
 Verein zur Förderung des Kunsthistorischen Instituts in Florenz (Max-Planck-Institut) e.V.
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The friends of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz
The Friends of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz were created in 1898, just one year after the Institute's own foundation, in order to provide the fledgling organization with adequate financial backing. Just a year later, the Friends numbered fifty-eight affluent members, the majority of these art historians. This initial capital formed a secure basis for the first years of Institute-related activities.

The Friends first chairman was the art historian and archaeologist Franz Xaver Krauss who formulated the following appeal on the occasion of its foundation:

"The Institute of Art History in Florence should aim to support the scholarship of all those art researchers and friends of the arts who wish to undertake detailed analyses of the historical development on this ancient soil, by placing study rooms and easily accessible specialist literature and the necessary reference materials at their disposal. It should thus contain as complete a collection of photographic material and other comparative publications of Italian paintings, sculpture, buildings, and, in particular, facsimile reproductions of drawings and painting manuscripts as possible, in addition to an extensive library housing international specialist literature. [...] Its study rooms should be [...] the site of intellectual gatherings [...] in the eyes of both the new arrival and the artistically-minded guest."

Krauss also drew up the Institute's official application for State subsidization, which was approved for the first time in 1902/03 and guaranteed the organization financial support for the next five years. In 1903, the Friends, which had now renamed itself the "Verein zur Förderung des Kunsthistorischen Institutes Florenz e.V." (Friends of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz) was entered in the Berlin Register of Associations.
The Friends have been directed by a series of prominent chairmen, which included Wilhelm von Bode and Wilhelm Waetzold (presidents of the Berlin museums), Theodor Lewald (former minister of state), Eberhard Hanfstaengl (General Director of the Bavarian State Painting Collections – Bayerische Staatsgemaeldesammlungen), Heinrich Heydenreich (director of the Central Institute of Art History in Munich), Erich Steingräber (General Director of the Bavarian State Painting Collections), Wolfgang Braunfels (chair of art history at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich), Max Seidel, former director of the Institute of Art History in Florence), and the lawyer Jens Peter Haeusgen. Well-known members of the Friends have included August Schmarsow, Adolph Bayersdorfer, Robert Davidsohn, Aby Warburg, Herrmann Grimm, Franz von Reber, Hugo von Tschudi and others.

The Friends assumed exclusive legal and financial responsibility for the Institute for more than seventy years. In 1970, the members decided to assign responsibility for the continued operation of what had become an extremely wide-ranging institution to the German Federal Ministry for Education, Science, Research and Technology. The sponsoring association was transformed into a registered Friends of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz in the wake of this decision. Nevertheless, the Friends remained the owner of the various Institute buildings, the Palazzo Capponi Incontri (donated by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation in 1961), the Casa Rosselli (donated by the Volkswagen Foundation in 1972) and the Casa Zuccari (donated by the Deutsche Bank AG in 1987), until their transfer to the Max Planck Institute in 2002.

The Friends remain an enthusiastic patron of the Institute, and has followed its development into one of the most important centers for the study of Italian art with great pride. Today, the societies primary purpose is the ideational and tangible promotion of the Institute's academic activities. It is extremely concerned to increase recognition for the Institute and its work, bringing it closer to the general public. The Friends support students and young scientists via scholarships, enabling them to continue their scientific exchanges, unrestricted, in this international meeting place at the very heart of historical Florence, which is frequented by a large number of scholars of all nationalities on a daily basis. It also contributes to the Institute's numerous high-quality publications, this in addition to supporting the primary focal points of the collections housed in the library and the photographic library, namely Renaissance art, art in the city of Siena and 19th and 20th century Italian art. The Friends began awarding the Jacob Burckhardt prize for promising young scholars in 2004 after consultation with the Institute's executive body.


 
Aby Warburg
 
Wilhelm von Bode
 
Copyright (c) 2005 Verein zur Förderung des Kunsthistorischen Institutes Florenz e.V.