In 1949 the Duke of Westminster gave the property in 39 Belgrave Square to the Duke Gallarati Scotti, Italian Ambassador at the time, for it to become the Italian Cultural Institute.
Since it was inaugurated in 1949, the Institute has been directed by the Count Umberto Morra di Lavriano, Guido Calogero, Gabriele Baldini, Filippo Donini, Mario Montuori, Alessandro Vaciago, Francesco Villari, Benedetta Bini, Mario Fortunato, Pierluigi Barrotta and Carlo Presenti. Since October 2012 Mrs Claudia Toffolo is the Acting Director.
The Institute is constantly involved in the organisation of conferences and concerts and it is regularly frequented by an heterogeneous British and Italian public as well as by professors, scholars and university students.
The Institute has been hosting important personalities of the Italian and British cultural world, such as T.S. Eliot, who held a lecture on Dante in 1964, or Primo Levi, whose speech entitled "From the Lab to the Writer's Desk" took place in 1986. Among those who have collaborated with the Institute it is worth mentioning Italo Calvino, Mario Soldati, Umberto Eco, Antonia S. Byatt, Piero Dorazio, Achille Perilli, Fabio Mauri, Carlo Maria Giulini, Luciano Berio, Luciana Serra, Zubin Mehta, Graziella Sciutti, Alberto Zedda, Sylvano Bussotti, Renata Scotto, Ruggero Raimondi, the Taviani brothers, Ferruccio Soleri, Antonio Pappano and many others.