Books, manuscripts, and several significant bodies of archival materials
make up the bulk of the Ricci Institute's Library collection. In addition
to these are a number of interesting and important art objects, photograph
collections, paintings, and the like.
These "online exhibits" were created in order to make these items more
broadly available to scholars, students, and the public at large:
The oldest object currently in this section dates from 1716 when the Kangxi
emperor, frustrated at waiting for a response to important questions related
to what would become known as the Chinese Rites Controversy, ordered The Red
Manifesto to be printed and distributed among the small number of Europeans
in China so that its message could be relayed back to Rome. The Insititute's
copy is one of only a few still extant worldwide.
In the early years of the 20th century a Chinese artist at the Jesuit orphanage
at Zicawei (Shijiahui, in municipal Shanghai) sought to depict the great
early Jesuit missioners, scientists, and humanists Matteo Ricci, Ferdinand
Verbiest, and Adam Schall, and the prominent Chinese Catholic convert Paul
Xu Guangqi. The four large portraits in Chinese style that the anonymous
local artist produced now hang in the Del Santo Reading Room just out side
the Institute offices.
A few decades later, a group of Chinese artists associated with the Fine Arts of Department of Beijing's Guanganmen Church of the Sacred Heart produced a handful of Chinese paintings in the so-called "meticulous" style mostly with scenes from the early Life of Jesus as subjects. These "Celestial Icons" were later mounted as scrolls and have been exhibited publicly a number of times, most recently in Australia.
A shared passion for photography and an interest in
China led Frederick J. Foley and Alden J. Stevenson, both Jesuit priests
at the time, to record their impressions of Taiwan and mainland China with
a sympathetic eye and a talent for the detail of everyday life. Taiwan
in the 1950s records Foley's experiences while teaching there,
while Stevenson's Through the Moon Gate reflects
travels on both sides of the Taiwan Straits from the 1970s into the 1990s,
though favoring the earlier period.