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The Istituto degli Innocenti in Florence has worked uninterruptedly for over six centuries, to help children and families. Founded at the beginning of the fifteenth century, it was the first secular institution dedicated to taking in children.

It was a considerable bequest by Francesco Datini, a Prato merchant, which led in 1419 to the initial agreements required to build in Florence a big Hospital for foundlings, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi .
In 1421, the Silk Guild, which had been entrusted with the management of the building works, obtained the confirmation by the Municipality and the attribution to the new Hospital, devoted to Saint Mary of the Innocents, of all the privileges enjoyed by the other city hospital corporations.
 The building development proceeded during the centuries, but the premises had been accommodating children since 1445. The benefactors commitment, which never failed, is also witnessed by the commission of important works of art, exhibited in Museo degli Innocenti and in several other museums throughout the world.
Considered in the past as a universal model of for the reception and care of children, the Institute has now become a public company providing services for people which continues its historical mission without interruption.
Today the Institute’s activities include establishing and testing educational and social services, studying the condition of children and promoting children’s rights and culture, in line with the UN Convention on the rights of the child.


Alessandra Maggi, President

Address Santissima Annunziata 12, Firenze

Prof. Roberto di Giulio
University of Ferrara, Italy
T his project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020
research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 665220.