The importance of memory
“I will never tire of saying it: you cannot build the future without knowing your past. The next generations must keep the memories of what has come before them, to always strive for something better. That is why, as early as the 1990s, I wanted to create our archive as a place to promote and share the culture of science through the retrieval, preservation and promotion of the innovations and the history of our company and our family.”
Diana Bracco, President and CEO of the Bracco Group
In January 1998, the Historical Archive project began with the aim of selecting, retrieving, inventorying, preserving and promoting the documentation relevant to reconstructing the operations and history of the organization founded in Milan on June 1st, 1927 by Elio Bracco. The “Italian E. Merck Products Company – S.A.”, operational beginning July 1st, 1927 and located in Piazzale Susa, marketed and sold products from the German pharmaceutical company E. Merck in Darmstadt, already established internationally.
Over the course of nearly twenty years, the Bracco Historical Archive has come a long way, expanding its patrimony and digitizing much of the material. Today, in order to enhance the value of this heritage of documentation, a website that shares it with the world has been created; an archive no longer limited to scholars and researchers inside or outside of the company, but a new powerful tool of communication and brand image as the best way to celebrate the 95th anniversary of the company’s founding.
In addition to numerous documents, there are three libraries that hold Bracco’s cultural heritage. A technical and scientific one, established in the 1950s as an internal updating instrument for employees in medicine, chemistry and pharmaceuticals; the Salata Library, specialized in the history of the Risorgimento and Italian irredentism once belonging to Senator Francesco Salata (Fulvio Bracco’s uncle and prominent Istrian patriot); and finally, the Diana Bracco Corporate Library, descendant of the library created by an employee association in the 1960s. Today, the latter is continuously updated with works of fiction both for adults as well as children of all ages, and is linked to the Milan Public Library network, enabling Group employees to take advantage of the office delivery service for thousands of titles from every literary and non-fiction genre.
In 2007, the Bracco Historical Archive was recognized for its “noteworthy historical interest” by the Lombardy Archival Superintendence for the following reason: “The Bracco historical archive is of particularly special interest in terms of reconstructing the history of the Italian, and especially Milanese pharmaceutical industry.” This is the highest public recognition of a private archive in Italy. In 2012, the Bracco Archive then became part of Museimpresa, the Italian Association of Museums and Corporate Archives promoted by Assolombarda and Confindustria.
What can you find today in this huge database created to pass on the values of a family and a historic Made in Italy company to the new generations? Among the valuable gems preserved in the Bracco Historical Archive, some that stand out are: the articles of incorporation, the employee register books and personnel files starting from July 1st, 1927, registration certificates for medicinal products in Italy and abroad starting from 1929, patents, laboratory notebooks and documentation on Bracco research (B books), portfolio and price lists, flyers, technical sheets and leaflets beginning from the 1930s, packaging materials for Bracco products sold in Italy and abroad since the 1970s, articles on Bracco products from scientific journals since the 1950s, company brochures, material related to scientific and cultural initiatives by Bracco or in collaboration with other bodies starting from the 1970s, technical drawings and blueprints from Bracco facilities in the Lambrate area of Milan starting from the 1950s including the Via Fucini location, documents concerning relations with the Group’s subsidiaries and licensees, Bracco’s globalization process and archives from the CDI (Italian Diagnostic Center) and from Diana de Silva Cosmétiques.
At present, the archive holds over 10 thousand documents. In particular: correspondence, corporate documents, balance sheets, press releases, publications and material related to cultural events. In addition, there are 2 thousand papers concerning research and clinical experiments, laboratory analyses and scientific projects; 4 thousand technical drawings and blueprints of Bracco facilities; 2 thousand cards, brochures, and advertising catalogs, starting with those for Cebion, launched in Italy in 1934.
Regarding photographs and multimedia material – the most engaging today for young people – the Bracco Historical Archive boasts hundreds of videos, audio recordings and over 5 thousand photographs, recording almost a century of the Bracco company and family history.
Among thousands of photographs, of special interest are the original albums on the construction of the Via Folli complex between the late 1940s and the early 1950s, the exterior and interior of the offices and manufacturing facilities, the company’s plants starting from the 1960s and the cultural and celebratory events supported by Bracco beginning in the 1980s.