The photo library

The Luoghi Pii Elemosinieri or ‘almoners’ charity houses’ photo library consists of a 5000-piece collection that contains loose photographs, photo albums, plates, stereotypes, negatives, slides and colour photographs that stretch across time from the late eighteenth century to the present day.

The photographs depict life in care institutes, capturing the people who made up this environment, such as patients-guests, benefactors and directors. They also show the Organisation’s agricultural properties and real estate as well as articles from its historical-artistic heritage. Of particular interest are albums of the institutes. One, for example, with pictures taken by photographer Mario Berva in the early 1920s of the Pia Casa degli Incurabili (charity home for the chronically sick) in Abbiategrasso, shows its guests who are busy doing various jobs.

Together with archive papers, other material has also been preserved: a group of portraits, mainly carte de visite and cabinet card photographs of the Organisation’s benefactors. These were often used as a model by painters and sculptors for their traditional portraits of gratefulness.