New York Architecture Images-Upper East Side

Istituto Italiano Di Cultura Landmark

  William and Frances Crocker Sloane House, now the Italian Cultural Institute.


Delano & Aldrich


686 Park Ave, Bet. East 68th & East 69th.








  One of a curiously homogeneous row of neo-Federal houses built early in the 20th century by the architects McKim, Mead and White and later Delano & Aldrich. Today they house the Americas Society, the Spanish Institute and the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, amongst other things.




A Brief History of the Institute


The origins of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura of New York date back to 1956 when an information agency on Italy and Italian culture operated out of the Italian Consulate. In 1958, when the Italian government acquired the building at 686 Park Avenue (adjacent to the Italian Consulate building), the Agency moved into the new prestigious office, and in 1961 Istituto Italiano di Cultura was opened.

The Institute is a stately building in the 1919 neo-Georgian / neo-Federal style, the work of architects Delano & Aldrich. The five-floor building with a terrace and an interior garden is a New York city landmark along with the other stately structures that face onto the same stretch of Park Avenue between 68thand 69th Streets. Besides the Italian Consulate at 690 Park Avenue (built in 1917 by architects Walker & Gillette), the Spanish Institute at no. 684 and the Americas Society at no. 680 make up this group.

Originally, the Cultural Institute worked in close collaboration with Casa Italiana of Columbia University, the oldest institution representing Italian culture in New York, inheriting also part of the Italian book and newspaper collection previously housed in Casa Italiana's Charles Paternò Library. In fact Giuseppe Prezzolini (professor of Italian at Columbia University since 1923 and director, until 1933, of Casa Italiana) contributed to the Istituto Italiano di Cultura's beginning until 1962 when he left the United States.

For nearly 12 years, from 1964 to 1976, the Institute was under the direction of Prof. Giuseppe Cardillo. His activities consisted essentially of those connected to the information agency: bibliographical information; cataloguing of newspaper and magazine articles; strong connections with the community of Italian origin in New York; the publication of periodical news bulletins. A different approach was taken by Prof. Marco Miele, director from 1976 to 1982, and subsequently by Prof. Lia Beretta (1982-84), with a greater attention to the organization of cultural and social events appealing to a wider local audience. After a long period with the position unfilled, the direction was assumed by Prof. Gianclaudio Macchiarella in 1988. He focused on the creation of cultural services in the areas of the promotion of Italian language and culture and in establishing steady relationships of collaboration with the city's major cultural institutions.

After the reformation of Cultural Institutes (L. 401 of December 29,1990), Prof. Furio Colombo headed the Institute from 1991 to 1994. After an interim period under Dr. Nives Mutti, Prof. Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, renowned musicologist, full professor at Palermo's University and former Director of the Bologna Opera House, served as director from January 1996 to January 2000. From September 2000 to September 2002, the Institute was under the direction of Paolo Riani, architect and former senator of the Italian Republic.

Since September 2003, the Institute is under the direction of Claudio Angelini, writer and journalist. 
Click here for a brief biographical note.


The Institute has a library containing over 30,000 volumes and a large newspaper and periodical collection, which is open to the public for research by appointment only, and a loan service for audiovisual material, open to schools and other institutions.

The Institute has official collaborative arrangements for the promotion of Italian language and culture with the School of Continuing Education of New York University, through which it organizes Italian courses for adults, and with the Università per Stranieri in Perugia and Siena, with which it organizes training and refresher courses for Italian teachers (nearly 600 in the surrounding area). In addition, Istituto Italiano di Cultura administrates C.I.L.S. and C.E.L.I certifications of knowledge of the Italian language.

The Institute maintains constant collaborative relationships with several important New York Cultural Institutions such as the Anthology Film Archives, the Lincoln Center Film Society and the Museum of Modern Art, for film festivals and retrospectives, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Y at 92nd Street Theatre and the S. & D. Kaye Playhouse, for performing arts, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Frick Collection and the Guggenheim, for art exhibits.