The Academy of Sciences was instituted in 1783 by Victor Amadeus III of Savoy. It was the national academy, first of the Kingdom of Sardinia and later of the Kingdom of Italy, until 1874, when the newly reconstituted Accademia dei Lincei in Rome took over as the official academy of the Italian nation.
Since 2000 the Academy has been a private institution. As defined in its by-laws, its role is to “contribute to scientific progress, supporting research and seeing to the publication of its results, contributing to the spread of knowledge through congresses, conventions, seminars, lectures and all other suitable means, and further by providing opinions and making proposals to public institutions and private organisations in its fields of competence”.
Today the Academy comprises about 400 members, consisting of Italian members, foreign members and corresponding members, divided into two Classes, “physical, mathematical and natural sciences” and “moral, historical and philological sciences”. The institution is headed by a presidential council, which organises its activities, and by the united assembly of the Classes, whose role is to approve the budget and elect those who hold the principal academic positions.
In addition to the scientific activities carried out in the monthly sessions, where members present the results of their research, each year the Academy also organises congresses, seminars and events, Italian and international, for specialists and non-specialists alike. Further, since the 19th century the Academy has awarded prizes to distinguished citizens and scholars who have made particularly outstanding contributions to their fields.
Since its founding the Academy has been housed in the centre of Torino in the palazzo that today carries its name, originally built in the 1600s as a Jesuit college.
The Academy maintains a library founded at the end of the 1700s comprising an excellent collection of historic works in the sciences and the humanities. The library’s patrimony (more than 250,000 books and 5,000 periodicals) grew in large part thanks to donations of scholars and exchanges of periodicals.
The Academy’s historic archive is one of the most important in Piedmont, and contains documents produced by the Academy and its members during more than two centuries of activity: more than 70,000 letters, numerous codices, 2,000 manuscript documents regarding the history of science, about a hundred drawings of industrial patents, and another hundred maps.
The Academy is also intensely involved in publishing: it annually publishes two series of papers, the Memorie and the Atti, which contain the collection of results of research presented by the members during the monthly sessions. The Academy also works with other Italian and foreign publishers to produce books series and monographs.
Over the course of recent years the Academy has developed a broad policy of collaboration with other cultural institutions in Torino as well as the most prestigious Italian and foreign academies, including the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome, the Académie des Sciences de l'Institut de France and the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften.