ISTITUTO CENTRALE PER I BENI SONORI ED AUDIOVISIVI
Established by Presidential Decree no. 233 of 26 November 2007 and regulated by the Ministerial Decree of 7 October 2008, the ICBSA took over the State Record Library, of which it acquired “the skills, personnel, financial and material resources, equipment and technical and documentary material”
The ICBSA is responsible for documenting, promoting and preserving the national sound and audiovisual heritage established by the legal deposit required by Law no. 106 of 15 April 2004
Its holdings currently consist of over 450,000 audio formats, including Edison’s wax cylinders, vinyl records, tapes, videos and digital media. It also holds a vast collection of historical equipment for sound reproduction: phonographs, gramophones and other machines from the late nineteenth century to the 1950s.
The ICBSA is also responsible for setting standards and guidelines for the conservation and management of sound and audiovisual heritage, promoting training activities and technical-scientific studies in its field, also in collaboration with other national and international institutions.
The first fund of the State Record Library was the collection “La parola dei Grandi” (the word of the greats), featuring collected speeches gathered by Rodolfo De Angelis in the first half of the 1920s. This core collection formed the holdings of the first ever State sound archive in Italy, which over the years was to be enriched with material from as diverse sources as folklore, music, history, theatre, dance, and cinema.
The over 450,000 audio recordings making up the institute’s collection are stored on a wide range of formats including wax cylinders, metal wires, vinyl records, tapes, compact discs, videotapes, DVD, and Blu-ray. They were acquired through legal deposit, purchase, donation, agreements with other institutes, as well as recordings of cultural events also organized in collaboration with other institutes.
The deposit of the material was first governed by the laws of 1934 and 1939 setting out the purposes of the institute and providing that all phonographic publishers in Italy or with representation in Italy give the institute a copy of published recordings upon request. Thanks to these laws, the fund now contains a substantial portion of the national record collection.
In 1999, the gathering and conservation activities of the institute were also extended to audiovisual and multimedia material by provision of the law that established the Audiovisual Museum as part of the State Record Library.
Today this activity is regulated by Law no. 106 of 15 April 2004 “Provisions concerning the legal deposit of documents of cultural interest for public use”, implemented by Presidential Decree no. 252 of 3 May 2006.
The collection of sound reproduction equipment features several types of machines able to read the various formats where sound was recorded over time.
The collections of the Central Institute for Sound and Audiovisual Heritage, formerly the State Record Library, are public and accessible through an online catalogue. Users can also listen to the opening bars of the sound documents that have been digitalized.
The institute hosts a library with over 15,000 volumes, which is not presently open to the public.
The historic archives containing documentation about the State Record Library from its inception up to the mid- 1970s (when the Ministry for cultural heritage and landscape was established) were recently reorganized.
The Institute’s historic collections include: Historic Voices, Musical collection, AELM Ethno Linguistic Musical archive and Theatre.
The “Collection of sound reproduction systems” documents the evolution of sound recording, from the early and extremely rare semi-experimental late nineteenth century machines recording on tin foil (the Tinfoil) to rare Edison phonographs, Columbia, Pathé phonographes and gramophones, etc. as well as machines for the mechanical and electrical recording of matrices including a 1913 piece manufactured in Germany.
With over three hundred extremely valuable pieces, hundreds of accessories, promotional materials and scientific documents concerning the exciting history of sound-recording research and experimentation, the collection was assembled thanks to the acquisition of two major funds: the Brothers Loreto (gramophone traders in Naples) at the end of the 1930s and, recently, the Florentine Giuseppe Buonincontro collection.
A photographing and cataloguing project is being carried out for this section, pending the identification of a suitable space for permanent storage and exhibition to the public.
The pieces on display here are only a selection of the most important machines from the collection acquired in 2013 by Giuseppe Buonincontro. They are organized in thematic sections: origins, availability of equipment for use in households, equipment for use in public places, toys and portable machines.