INDIRE began in 1925 in Florence as a National Educational Exhibition on products for “new” schools, those fulfilling Giuseppe Lombardo Radice’s idea of teaching as an “active” experience. In 1929, the National Teaching Museum was established in order to offer a permanent venue for the Exhibition. In 1954 it became the Centre for Teaching Studies and Documentation and later, in 1974, the Library for Pedagogical Documentation (BDP in Italian). During the 1980s, the BDP led a pioneering study of digital technology which revolutionised the very idea of pedagogical documentation, turning it into an innovative driving force to spread knowledge.
In 1995, with the arrival of the Internet, the BDP started to support schools for a more effective and informed use of the web. In 1999, the institute designed and set up the first entirely online training course for teachers, which attracted over 90,000 applications. In 2001, BDP became INDIRE, the National Institute for Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research. From 2001-2011, the Institute took part in large-scale online initiatives to train Italian teachers and promote technological and educational innovation in schools. In 2007, with the Law 296/2006, INDIRE became ANSAS, the National Agency for the Development of School Autonomy. INDIRE was reinstated on 1 September 2012, under the terms established by article 19 of Legislative Decree 98/2011 converted with amendments by Law 111/2011.
Currently, the Institute continues to work alongside schools to promote innovative teaching and support learning processes. INDIRE is included in the National Evaluation System by Presidential Decree 80/2013 and is engaged in national educational improvement processes.
Since 1925, the Institute has had the same headquarters in the centre of Florence, in Palazzo Gerini, the Renaissance palace in the Santa Croce district. The palace was restored in the early 1900s by the architect Giovanni Michelucci who was also responsible for the interior design.
At present, the Institute has also three regional units in Turin, Rome and Naples.
Florence hosts also the headquarters of the INDIRE Italian National Erasmus+ Agency which manages the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport for 2014-2020. There is also a branch office in Rome.