The Museum library includes 20 thousand books: monographs about the most important photographers in Italy and abroad, catalogues of personal and collective exhibitions, theoretical and historical texts and Italian and international periodicals.
The collection was formed in 2000 via purchases, exchanges with museums and cultural institutions in Italy and abroad and donations.
Lanfranco Colombo fund
This consists of books donated by Lanfranco Colombo, together with a collection of photographs, to the Lombardy Region in 2003. The Lombardy Region transferred them to the Museum of Contemporary Photography. It’s an important and huge fund, formed during Lanfranco Colombo’s activity as manager of Il Diaframma gallery in Milan and as an editor. It is comprised of 8,061 books by 7,000 photographers and monograph curators. Most of the books were published between 1967 and 2000. One third are signed by the authors, and some of the books are truly exceptional.
The fund offers a panoramic view on photography in Italy, Europe, Central and South America, Russia and China.
Amilcare Ponchielli fund
Purchased in 2002 by the city of Cinisello Balsamo for the Museum of Contemporary Photography. The collection, consisting of 800 books published from 1970 to 2000, includes important monographs by 255 photographers (82 from Italy and 173 from abroad). An appendix of 27 books on fashion and full year publications of 4 magazines “Twen” (1964/71), “Photo” (1976/84), “Nova” (1966/75), “Life” (1978/84) integrates the collection.The fund has anthological purpose and includes the most representative names in photography, across all genres.
Antonio Arcari fund
Donated to the Museum by Antonio Arcari’s daughter, Silvia, in 2006. It includes 229 books published from 1940 to 1999, collected by Arcari himself, and, after his death, by his daughter Silvia.
The collection is completed by 3 magazines: “Du Atlantis” (1964/76), “Life International” (1962/70) and “Photo magazin” (1956/69). The fund includes essays and manuals on history, criticism and photography techniques and monographs by Italian and foreign photographers, with particular attention to reportage and experimental photography in the ‘50s-‘70s. The collection also includes books on cinema, most of all on German and Russian films, which Arcari loved. The fund is integrated by notes, drafts, articles, correspondence and personal missives that reflect his activity as a critic from 1950 to 1970.
Mario Cattaneo fund
Donated by Mario Catteneo’s heirs to the Museum in 2006, together with his photography archives. It includes about 100 books, with rare monographs. It pays particular attention to French reportage, Italian neorealism, experimental and avant-garde photography.
It also contains the Italian Photography Almanac (19 full years from 1964 to 2000), other almanacs and specialized magazines: “Fawecett Book” (1959), “Photography Annual” (1957/67, 1970, 1976/77, 1979/81), “Popular Photography Color Annual” (1957/59), “Skema”, “Photography Year Book” (1951, 1960/67, 1969, 1973, 1975/78, 1980), “Foto Almanach”, “Creative fotografie”, “U.S. Camera” (1961,1963). Documentary materials, such as correspondence, exhibition brochures, invitations, notes, papers and magazines, copies of articles, writings, maps and travel diaries by Mario Catteneo.
Paola Mattioli fund
Donated by the photographer in October 2007.
It includes 1500 books on a wide variety of topics: photography and cinema, painting, architecture, psychiatry, work, travel, ethnology. There are 400 books of photographs: milestones in the history and criticism of photography, and rare monographs by Italian and foreign authors. It also contains about 60 essays by Gillo Dorfles, Umberto Eco, Ernst Gombrich, Mauro Mancia, Marshall Mc Luhan, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Carlo Arturo Quintavalle, René Berger, Dino Formaggio, Wassily Kandinsky and other scholars analyzing the relationship between images, language and communication.
The collection is integrated by books published by small and daring publishers who enriched the cultural debate in the humanities and the visual arts from the early ‘70s on and by 150 books on 30 years of feminism in Italy.
Federico Patellani fund
The whole Federico Patellani’s photographic archive and library were lent to the Lombardy Region in 1998 by his son Aldo, to be used for 20 years. The Lombardy Region consigned the fund to the Museum. The library includes material integrating the archives (notes and travel notes, maps, books, magazines Patellani worked for, especially “Tempo”). It also includes important photo reporter monographs, Italian and foreign, and technical manuals.
Grazia Neri fund
After its closure in 2009, Grazia Neri’s photo agency donated its library and the analog archives. It consists of 1200 books, most of them dedicated to social, nature and travel photo reporting, from Italy and abroad. The books were published from the ‘80s to the present and offer a broad overview of world history in the last 40 years.
Roberto Signorini fund
Roberto Signorini’s library and paper archive were donated to Museum in 2010 by Maria Luisa Tornesello, his assistant, on behalf of Signorini itself. The fund includes about 700 books, most of them criticism and historical essays on photography, with particular attention to Italian photography in civil contexts. It also contains rare and scarce books used by Signorini to write his important theoretical works.
Roberto Signorini’s paper archive is of great importance. It consists of didactic material, notes and messages that illustrate the connection between artistic research and civil commitment, and also his passion in studying and teaching photography.
A selection of messages is published in book form in Con i nostri pensieri e con i nostri gesti… Le responsabilità degli intellettuali nelle lettere e nella riflessione di Roberto Signorini (With our thoughts and our acts… Intellectual responsibility in Roberto Signorini’s letters and thoughts) edited by Maria Luisa Tornesello, free download in PDF.
Begun in 2000, during introductory activities to the opening of the Museum, it has grown year after year. It consists of: books of photographs purchased by the Museum; books exchanged with Italian and foreign museums and cultural institutions; donations by “friends of the Museum”, especially: Gabriele Basilico, Ottavio Bellamio, Giovanna Calvenzi, Ambrogina Casiraghi, Sergio Dahó, Gianni Berengo Gardin, Jochen Gerz, Candida Höfer, Mimmo Jodice, Paolo Lazzarin, Pepi Merisio, Beat Streuli, Roberta Valtorta, Anna Zanoli, Sergio Dahò, Alinari editors, Contrasto, Federico Motta, Silvana Editoriale, Postmedia Books and Johan & Levi.
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