The BSR was founded in 1901 and received its first Royal Charter in June 1912. Following the International Exhibition in Rome of 1911 celebrating 50 years since Italian reunification, the site of the magnificent Edwin Lutyens-designed British Pavilion was granted in perpetuity to the British nation on condition that it be used exclusively as a British research centre for archaeology, history and the fine arts. In 1916, following significant adaptation by Lutyens, the BSR moved into our current home in via Gramsci, in Rome’s Valle Giulia.
The BSR’s archaeological activity has been dominated by the two great directors; Thomas Ashby (1906-1925), whose photographs of the Roman Campagna remain evocative and vital sources for our knowledge of a lost countryside, and John Ward-Perkins (1945-1974), pioneer of field survey in Italy.
An impressive list of successful and critically esteemed artists from Thomas Monnington, Winifred Knights and John Skeaping to Eddie Peake, Cornelia Parker, Mark Wallinger and Geoff Uglow have been part of the BSR story.
Over the BSR’s first century our facilities for scholars have been substantially extended and refurbished, most recently through generous help from the Packard Humanities Institute and Lord and Lady Sainsbury of Preston Candover’s Linbury Trust, amongst many other sponsors. In 2002 the purpose-built lecture theatre and gallery spaces were opened by our President, HRH Princess Alexandra.
Photo credit: Restored Lutyens drawings, showing the original designs for the building. Photo by Giorgio Benni.