The Institut Amatller d’Art Hispànic was created in 1943 to fulfil one of the objectives of the Fundació Institut Amatller d’art Hispànic: the “propulsion of research into the history of Hispanic art”. Its first director was Josep M. Gudiol Ricard.
Josep M. Gudiol Ricard completed his training as an art historian in the United States, where he got to know institutions dedicated to the study of art history and their working protocols. On his return to Barcelona and from the model of the Frick Collection in New York, he developed the structure of the Institut Amatller d’Art Hispànic.
Industrialist Henry Clay Frick had assembled a comprehensive collection that he decided to exhibit in a New York museum; in parallel he had created a library (Frick Library) in the same building so that researchers could study History of Art through documents and their collections.
Since its inception, the Institut Amatller d’Art Hispànic has managed the documentation and archives that the Amatller family had treasured. Furthermore, in 1941 Teresa Amatller bought the Mas archive, an important photographic collection. The Mas archive is the nucleus of the Institutes’s collections of photographs.
With Teresa Amatller’s death in 1960, the Institut Amatller d’Art Hispànic occupied the main floor of the building, which was the home of the Amatller family. The entity’s director, Josep M. Gudiol, also trained as an architect, adapted the main floor of Casa Amatller as a study centre. All the interventions that were carried out were reversible, removing and preserving the original modernist furniture and artistic collections and respecting the architecture to the maximum and applied arts designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch.
In 2009, within the framework of the building’s restoration project and the opening of the Museum of the institution with the opening to the public of the main floor of the Casa Amatller, the Institut Amatller d’Art Hispànic moved to occupy the 2 upper floors: one works as a library, the other as a photo library and offices of the Institute.
The Institut Amatller d’Art Hispànic is the only Spanish entity that forms part of the RIHA (International Association of Art History Research Institutes), which is an international association of history of art research centres with top-level representatives.