The ICCD was founded in 1975 and is a branch of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism. Its mission is to manage Italy’s national catalogue of archaeological, architectural, artistic and demo-ethno-anthropological heritage. The ICCD also preserves important photograph collections and provides access to them. It produces exhibitions, catalogues and other publications to support cataloguing and to improve awareness and knowledge of its historic collections.
The ICCD inherited the functions of two earlier institutions: the Office for Cataloguing, founded in 1969, which was responsible for defining national cataloguing methodologies; and the National Photographic Bureau (Gabinetto fotografico nazionale), founded in 1892, the principle national institution for the production and collection of photographic documentation.