The Italian Academy was created in 1991 on the basis of a charter signed by the President of the Republic of Italy and the President of Columbia University. It was conceived as a center for advanced research in areas relating to Italian culture, science and society. It was also intended to provide a locus for collaborative projects between senior Italian and American scholars, particularly those open to interdisciplinary research. Given its international scope and its long-standing commitment to all aspects of Italian culture and society, Columbia was seen as an especially appropriate context for such a venture.
Funding for the Academy came from an endowment established at Columbia in 1991 by the Republic of Italy; since then, a variety of foundations and private donors have provided other endowments and gifts.
McKim Mead and White's 1927 Casa Italiana, elegantly reconstructed by Italo Rota and Sam White in 1993, is the home of the Academy. It provides an exceptional series of offices for the Academy's Fellows, as well as housing a library and a magnificent theater, in Neo-Renaissance style, in which major academic, theatrical and musical events regularly take place.