The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana was constructed as part of the program of the Esposizione Universale Roma, a large business center and suburban complex, initiated in 1935 by Benito Mussolini for the planned 1942 world exhibition and as a symbol of fascism for the world. The Palazzo was designed by the architects Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto Bruno Lapadula and Mario Romano and constructed between 1938 and 1943. It was inaugurated on 30 November 1940 as the centerpiece of the Esposizione and continues to be its most iconic building. The structure is also considered one of the most representative examples of Fascist architecture at the EUR.
The exhibition was cancelled on June 3, 1941, while the building was being finished. It stood empty, abandoned for over a decade. The building opened its doors to the public for the first time in 1953. It hosted the Roma 1953 Agricultural Exhibition.
Between 2003 and 2008, the palace was closed to the public for restoration. Since 2015, it has housed the headquarters of luxury fashion label Fendi, and will continue to do so for the next 15 years at least. Fendi will reportedly pay 2.8 million euros per annum to occupy the space. The ground floor of the building will reportedly be left clear to house exhibitions celebrating Italian craftsmanship.