Archives and Special Collections are open by appointment only, limited to UMN affiliates. Appointments must be made one week in advance of your visit. Contact or the curator of the collecting area you wish to use for assistance. We continue to provide scans of requested research materials when possible, especially for our non-campus clientele.

The acquisition of the Matteo Ricci 1602 Map of the World by the James Ford Bell Trust and on loan to the University of Minnesota for the benefit of the James Ford Bell Library, was marked by a number of events in 2010.

Exhibition at the James Ford Bell Library

Matteo RicciMatteo RicciThe 1602 Ricci Map, called the "Impossible Black Tulip" because it is so rare, was the featured item in an exhibition at the James Ford Bell Library, which ran September through November, 2010.

The "Impossible Black Tulip" remains on display in the Bell Library's period room through May 21, 2011. Public viewing is available during the Bell Libraries regular hours (8:30-4:30 M-F; beginning May 9, noon-5:00 p.m.) and at other times by special arrangement. Groups are welcome. For more information, contact the Library at or 612-624-1528.

Matteo Ricci: His Map and Music

"Matteo Ricci: His Map and Music", a unique multimedia performance by U of M Professor Ann Waltner, Indiana University's early music ensemble ¡Sacabuche!, and Chinese composer Huang Ruo, and others, is coming to the U of M campus after its wildly successful debut in China.

Inspired by the James Ford Bell Trust's acquisition of the 1602 world map by Matteo Ricci, collaboration was begun between Ming historian Ann Waltner, in cooperation with the Bell Library, and ¡Sacabuche!, an ensemble of faculty and students at the Early Music Institute of Indiana University's Jacob School of Music, to create a multi-layered dialogue between the Italian Renaissance and Ming China through the media of music, text, and image--including images o f the map. The result is a wonderful program that combines Italian music of Ricci's time, Chinese folk music (performed on the sheng and the guzheng, and newly composed music by rising star Huang Ruo, with texts and projected images of the map and other images. Texts written by or about Ricci in Western languages are spoken in English; texts written by or about Ricci in Chinese are spoken in Chinese.

¡Sacabuche! Rehearsal¡Sacabuche! RehearsalThe Ricci program was first performed to a full house of about 400 people at the National Center for the Performing Arts at Beijing on December 12, 2010. That evening, a second performance was given at Nantang Cathedral to another full house (700-800 people), on the site where Ricci lived and preached 400 years ago. A third performance at Renmin University reached another 300 people. The December issue of Time Out Beijing ranged the performance as the no. 1 critics' choice for the month, and described it as "The most creative, intelligent, multi-layered project to be seen here for a long time."

"Matteo Ricci: His Map and Music" was performed at the University's Campus Club on Saturday, April 9, at 7:30 p.m., sponsored by the Confucius Institute in cooperation with the James Ford Bell Library.

48th Annual James Ford Bell Lecture by Jonathan Spence

Jonathan Spence, renowned China scholar, presented this year's annual James Ford Bell Lecture on October 7, as part of the celebration of the Ricci map's arrival at the University of Minnesota.

Jonathan Spence

Sterling Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University

"Ricci's Map: Its Place in his China Strategy"


More than 300 people crowded into Willey Hall 125 to hear Professor Jonathan Spence, a widely recognized historian of China, give this year's Bell Lecture. Spence focused his remarks on what he called the "Minnesota Map"--the 1602 Ricci map currently on loan to the University of the Minnesota by the James Ford Bell Trust for the benefit of the Bell Library. Spence, who had previously examined the map while it was at the Library of Congress earlier this year, spent several hours with the Minnesota Map before his talk, examining the text on his own and in conversation with Professor Ann Waltner, U of M historian of Ming China and now an expert on this copy of the Ricci map.

The 48th Annual James Ford Bell Lecture was presented by the Associates of the James Ford Bell Library with support from the University of Minnesota Libraries. Additional sponsors of the evening's events included: The Friends of the University of Minnesota Libraries, the Center for Early Modern History, the Confucius Institute, the China Center, and the US-China Peoples Friendship Association of Minnesota.

More About Jonathan Spence

On May 20th, 2010, he presented the 39th Annual Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities. The lecture, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, is the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities. Among his many books: The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci.


Maps & Missionaries Lecture Series

The Bell Library was a co-sponsor of the Center for Early Modern History's fall lecture series, "Maps & Missionaries."





For additional information about the Center for Early Modern History, visit the CEMH web site:

Other co-sponsors of this series and other CEMH lectures included: Office of Research and Graduate Programs, College of Liberal Arts, the Department of History, Department of Art History, Theorizing Early Modern Studies, European Studies Consortium, History of Science and Technology, Institute for Advanced Study, Institute for Global Studies, American Indian Studies Workshop, Immigration History Research Center, and Religious Studies.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

The famous woodblock map of Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci began its stay in Minnesota as part of an exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), May 15 through August 29, 2010.

It is now on exhibit at the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota.

The MIA exhibit, Global Positioning c. 1600: A Rare World Map, also featured Chinese porcelain and other objects from the MIA's permanent collection. Learn more...

A public lecture on the Ricci Map by London map expert Daniel Crouch was held on Saturday, June 12, at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The lecture was co-sponsored by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Associates of the James Ford Bell Library, and the University of Minnesota Libraries.