The history of Pirelli, one of the most long-lived multinational corporations in the history of Italy, is a case apart in terms of its corporate culture, which combines technological innovation and liberal culture, scientific research and artistic experimentation, and the promotion of talent and an international vision. The awareness that preserving the cultural, historic and contemporary heritage of the company is of huge importance not just for the company but also for society and for the land where it works led to the creation in 2008 of the Pirelli Foundation, which is based in the Bicocca district of Milan, where the Group has its headquarters. The role of the Pirelli Foundation, which is an authentic corporate asset, is to promote the ties between the Group and culture in Italy and around the world, as well as the multi-disciplinary culture that has always been a primary feature of Pirelli’s identity. A constant commitment to combining memory and future.
The Historical Archive
The Foundation has preserved documentation of the company’s history since it was founded in 1872, through to the present day. The communication section, which testifies to the intense and rewarding collaboration between Pirelli and intellectuals, artists, and photographers is a key feature of the 4 kilometres of documents in the Historical Archive.
The section contains thousands of photos taken by such masters as Gabriele Basilico and Ugo Mulas, hundreds of advertising sketches created by graphic artists and designers such as Bruno Munari and Bob Noorda, and films dating back to the pioneers of cinema in the early twentieth century, such as Luca Comerio. The Historical Archive is also home to house organs and national and international magazines including Pirelli. Rivista d’informazione e di tecnica through to today’s Pirelli World, the collection of Documents on the History of Pirelli Industries and the private archives of the Pirelli family.
The Foundation also has a Scientific and Technical Library with over 16,000 volumes, and an institutional library of its own with about 2,000 books. In a clear indication of the value of the Pirelli Archive for the community, the Soprintendenza Archivistica proclaimed its historic interest back in 1972, placing it under its own protection.
The Pirelli Foundation works on numerous activities to promote Pirelli’s corporate culture, involving thousands of people each year. It organises exhibitions, both on the premises of the Foundation and in other museums and exhibition spaces, it works on publishing projects and puts on guided tours of the company’s headquarters, organising conferences and research activities. It produces content and provides cultural mediation, helping discover the world of Pirelli and providing assistance to the management of all the company’s departments, as well as to professionals and students.
The Foundation also works on special projects such as Il Canto della Fabbrica (The Song of the Factory), a composition inspired by the rhythms of the digital factory, commissioned by the Pirelli Foundation from the violist Francesco Fiore and performed by the Orchestra da Camera Italiana conducted by Maestro Salvatore Accardo in the packaging department of the Industrial Centre in Settimo Torinese.
The story of the factory can also be seen in auteur photographs like those commissioned from the photographer Carlo Furgeri Gilbert inside the Centre in Settimo and in the Pirelli factory in Bollate. In a photo shoot in the Research & Development laboratories at the Headquarters in Milano Bicocca, Furgeri Gilbert also illustrated the world of science and research at Pirelli, which is increasingly geared towards raw materials and innovative materials. The images can be seen at www.pirellibuildsthefuture.org.
The Foundation also constantly invests in cultural dissemination instruments in the digital world: the fondazionepirelli.org website has developed virtual tours of the Pirelli Foundation, of the Bicocca degli Arcimboldi and of the exhibition Skyscraper Stories as well as a chatbot, a software program using artificial intelligence that lets the user interact directly with the site. Exhibitions, publications and in-depth analyses of the Archive and libraries are always available through hubs linked to the Foundation website.
It also puts on a whole series of events devoted to the world of books, giving its support to BookCity Milano and #ioleggoperché, and collaborating with the Premio Campiello. This has also led to the creation of the Premio Campiello Junior, a literary award for fiction and poetry books for children aged between 10 and 14.
The Foundation remains committed to promoting reading also in the workplace, running company libraries at the Milano Bicocca Headquarters as well as at the Bollate factory.
Over the year, there have been countless partnerships with leading cultural institutions: in the world of art and history, such as with the National Trust for Italy (FAI) and Fondazione ISEC, the institute for the study of contemporary history; in the world of theatre, with the Teatro Franco Parenti and the Piccolo Teatro di Milano; in that of music, with the La Scala opera house, the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, the Orchestra da Camera Italiana, and the MITO SettembreMusica Festival.
The Foundation also works in the field of education, with courses for teachers and students of all levels and types of schools and universities. Here, its main aim is to introduce young people to the world of production and work, bringing them closer to the fundamental values of the corporate culture of Pirelli, a multinational company and ambassador of the Made in Italy label around the world.