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About Us

Discover the cultures of the world with appreciation

Welcome to the Museum of Chinese Art and Ethnography

Entrance Area
Entrance area and reception at the Museum of Chinese Art and Ethnography

As visitors enter, they see on display four large Chinese paintings of religious inspiration, followed by a series of 26 illustrated double-sided tiles with photos from the world. This is the privileged area for temporary Exhibits.

Kayapò Area
The people Kayapò area

The Kayapò is a small group of Indios of the Brazilian Amazon region, who represent other minorities, custodians of traditional values and living. This colorful exhibit conveys the values that sustain their universe: body painting, the myths of origins, the consciousness of community and dignity, their idea of being people strong and beautiful.

Africa Area
Exhibit of Traditional African art

We give just a small taste of African objects which come from areas (D.R.Congo, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Chad) where the Xaverians have been working for decades. There will be other opportunities that will highlight these objects of traditional African art.

Multi-Vision Area
The ramp with the multi-vision area on China

The descent of the ramp is accompanied by images that shows ancient and current China, its arts, landscapes and people of past and present, arts, landscapes and the past and present people of this great nation. There are bi-lingual didactic panels as well as touch-screen monitors with lots of information, typical of every museum.

China Area
Section with the Historical Cabinets and Chinese Ceramics

Standing by the large amphitheater, the visitor can admire the collection of pottery and porcelain from China, accompanied by an harmonious huge circular taiji – the symbols of yin and yang, the grandiose 12-panel Chinese folding-screen, the “Historical Cabinets”, the scholar study, the exhibit of Chinese religious statuary, the paintings and the rich coin Chinese collection.

The amphitheater of Chinese Ceramics

A Century-old Story

The Museum of Chinese Art Museum and Ethnography of Parma began in 1901, as the wish of the founder of the Xaverian Missionaries Guido M. Conforti. At the conclusion of the Universal Exhibit of Turin (1898), Senator Fedele Lampertico donated some valuable pieces to Bishop Conforti, Bishop of Parma and founder of the Xaverian Institute.

The museum represents an artistic and documented container of exceptional importance, fruit of a long and winding journey. For a few decades, the Xaverians worked exclusively on Chinese territory; Conforti appeal to them: "As you come into the various territories of your missions, please send to the Mother house some cultural elements of ethnology and art."

The last input of objects from China through the missionaries arrived in Parma in 1947; soon after, the Xaverian mission presence in China ended.

To that first collection of objects of art and ethnography from China, other pieces were added from the 60s on, of predominantly ethnographic interest, from the other regions of the world (Asia, Africa, Americas) were the Xaverians are present: Japan, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Africa, etc. Thus enriching the museum of cultural aspect which witness the life in those continents.

Mission of the Museum

Mission of the Museum

With its inauguration on Dec. 1st 2012, the Museum of Chinese Art and Ethnography of the Xaverian Missionaries in Parma has undergone a radical renovation. It's a cultural investment with a specific target: visitors and schools of every kind and degree.

Our museum is not monothematic, and not even a sterile relic of the past; rather, we want to show the vitality, reality and life of the cultures represented in our museum. And the work of the Xaverian missionaries is still alive and more universal than ever: China is mysterious and gentle, the Kayapó are still "strong and beautiful" and Africa is still appealing and fascinating.

The museum suggests to journey into the Harmony of Art, and the theme of “circle-harmony”, presenting objects from various cultures, shows its beauty; infact, the circle, shows harmony across all cultures.

By highlighting the artistic value of the objects, in particular those from China, the museum wants to celebrate the meeting of cultures. Our journey like a continuum walkway, better yet, almost a placid river that accompanies the visitor... through a sense of unity and harmony, in which all the materials retain a sense of dignity and values.

of the Museum

The creation of a museum highlights the willingness to be open to the knowledge of the cultures of the peoples we approach.

Saint Guido Maria Conforti, founder of the Xaverian Missionaries
  • Guido M. Conforti

    1898 - In the first rules for his future missionaries, Conforti writes: "As you come into the various territories of your missions, please send to the Mother house some cultural elements of ethnology and art." This is the first mention of the founding of a museum. Together with the founding of the Xaverian missionaries (1895) and their mission to China (1898), it forms "the Daring Project" dreamed by Guido M. Conforti.

Ceramic vase donated by sen. Fedele Lampertico
  • Sen. Fedele Lampertico

    1900 - The idea of a museum began to take shape with the donation by Senator Fedele Lampertico of some Chinese objects from the Universal Exhibition of Turin (1898). According to the Xaverian tradition, Conforti "fell in love" with this Ming blue-white Vase. Conforti kept some Chinese donated ceramics to adorn the Mother House, which became the first fruits of his cherished museum.

Odoardo Manini as he returned from China
  • Odoardo Manini

    1902 - Edoardo Manini comes back from China, following the unexpected death of his companion Fr. Caio Rastelli. They were the first two Xaverians sent to China by Conforti two years earlier. Manini brought back many objects which began a permanent exhibit in a room on the first floor of the Mother House.

First Issue of Faith and Civilization, "Fede e Civiltà" (december 1903)
  • Rivista "Fede e Civiltà"

    1903 - Founding of the official periodical of the Institute, that combined in its title "Faith and Civilization" (Fede e Civiltà - 1903), both sides - religious and cultural - of the initial project of Conforti. The contents of this journal conveyed the deep knowledge of its customs and traditions, its culture and society, its philosophy and religion, unknown to most.

Father Giovanni Bonardi, wearing Chinese clothing
  • P. Giovanni Bonardi

    1911-1936 - In March 1911 Fr. Giovanni Bonardi returns from China to Parma, and the museum is enriched with lots of objects: bronzes, porcelains, paintings, coins and so on. A new space was expanded and opened to display the new Chinese material, and this configuration given by both Conforti and Bonardi lasted until 1936, and remained under the competent responsibility of the same Fr. Bonardi.

Fr. Giuseppe Toscano, author of the volume "Museo d'Arte Cinese di Parma" 1965, Chinese Museum of Parma
  • P. Giuseppe Toscano

    1959-1965 - Following the War and the work of expansion of the Motherhouse, the museum received a decisive input from the trained eye and direction of Fr. Giuseppe Toscano, especially in the years 1963-1965, when more than a hundred historical and valuable pieces enriched the museum.
    Fr. Toscano was able to gather and study the objects, and publish the first edition of his voluminous catalog "Chinese Art Museum of Parma" (1965), which saw a second edition with the title "Chinese Art and Culture" (1984).

The museum in 1990s, in the basement of the Motherhouse of the Xaverian missionaries, Parma (1998-2010)
  • P. Emilio Iurman

    2001-2013 - Fr. Emilio Iurman becomes director of the museum in 2001. Due to new construction for the accessibility of the Mother House, the museum is gathered in the great hall of the basement. Fr. Iurman starts and completes a work of digital database and cataloging of all objects in the museum, including its rich numismatic collection.
    In October 2010, work begins on a comprehensive restructuring of the museum, which ends with the inauguration of the new museum space on Dec. 1st 2012.