The FEF, founded in 1987, was incorporated by a presidential act, D.P.R. 17 April 1990. Its mission is to pursue cultural and scientific objectives, including supporting research, conserving and promoting heritage of cultural and artistic nature. Since 18 May 1990, the Foundation has appeared in the list of organisations that the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities considers worthy of State support. It is an institute of scientific research as defined by both the statutory instrument D.P.C.M. dated 8 May 2007, and art. 1 para. 353 of Law 23 December 2005, n. 266.
On 30 January 1998 the FEF acquired nonprofit status (in Italian designated by the acronym O.N.L.U.S.), and continues to operate as such.