Fondazione Sella collects, conserves and valorizes a vast archive of documents and iconography which is at the disposal of researchers. Founded in 1980 it was recognized on the 5th of August 1981 by decree 6194 of the president of the regional council of Piedmont. From the beginning it operated as a non-profit venture and in 1998 it obtained the qualification of non-profit organization of social utility. The headquarters are situated in Biella in the buildings of the former Maurizio Sella Woolmill where the activities and archives were transferred in 1990. The coat of arms and the motto “coniungit et servat” were granted by decree of the President of the Republic on 17th January 2000.
Its archives, originally consisting of the papers of the Sella family of Mosso and dating back to the beginning of the 17th century, and providing detailed documentation of its wool business, was later enriched by the addition of numerous other archivistic collections through donations, acquisitions and deposits. They are organized in funds relative to the individuals, families, organisations or factories which have donated them. The contents of the documentary collections cover a wide range of subjects: politics, economics, company documentation, letters and personal papers, photographs and collections of documentary and artistic value.
A well-furnished library related to the subjects of the funds completes the material available to researchers.
A series of publications, conventions and exhibitions further express the cultural dedication of the Foundation. Worthy of note is the historic research into Biellese emigration – curated by Valerio Castronovo – and now collected in 11 volumes edited by Electa, as well as the catalogue of the documentary and iconographic exhibition with the title “Knowing the way”; the management of the “Federico Maggia” prize for architecture and engineering and numerous exhibitions. Especially memorable exhibitions which have been held in the headquarters are: “1899 Vittorio Sella in Sikkim”, “Guido Rey, pictorial photographer”, “Water and work: 1200 years of the history, related in the archives, of the relationship between motive power and work in the Biellese”, “Quintino Sella Linceo” and “The Mountains of Quintino Sella – from engineer and geologist to mountaineer”.