The Library is located in Palazzo Corsini and was born from the merger of the Corsiniana Library with that of the Academy. In fact, in 1883, the Corsiniana Library was donated by Tommaso Corsini to the Academy on the occasion of the family building sale in Via della Lungara to the Italian State, destined to become the new headquarters of the National Academy of Lincei and its book collections.
In the project of the Academy, founded in 1603 by Federico Cesi, the library played an essential role: in fact, next to the museum, it constituted the central nucleus of the Lyceum, considered as a meeting space between scholars of different disciplines. The library reflected the multiple and vast interests of the Academy since its foundation: there were works of philosophy, mathematics, architecture, geography, astronomy, history, philology, literature, but also orientalistic, astrological, alchemical and hermetic texts.
On the death of Cesi in 1630, the library was purchased by Cassiano dal Pozzo and, in 1714, his heirs sold the library to Cardinal Alessandro Albani. The collection, sacked during the revolutionary uprisings of 1798, was put up for auction in 1857; a good part was lost in the sinking of the ship carrying the volumes to the Imperial Library in Berlin, from which they had been purchased. The Library of the Corsini princes, on the other hand, testifies to the tendencies of book collecting between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when the illustrious Tuscan potentate constitutes a very rich collection of manuscripts, among which some illuminated books of hours, of incunabula (such as the editio princeps of Vitruvius’ De architectura, embellished with drawings and annotations by Sangallo il Gobbo), sixteenth-century books, drawings and prints.
The Library is currently divided into three sections: the Corsiniana Section, the Academic Section which preserves the original nucleus of the Cesiana Library, the Historical Archive and the volumes received either by bequest or by donation or by purchase from the Academy and, finally, the Eastern Section, established in 1924 following the donation by Leone Caetani of his very rich library of oriental studies, added to the Michele Amari Fund, acquired in 1889.
The library has also launched an intense campaign of digitization and facsimile reproduction (from card catalogs, printed and volume catalogs to codes, archival correspondence), which saw the collaboration of the Italian Encyclopedia Institute.
Photo credits: courtesy of the Senate official site
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