Many died in the missions, and many others, on their return, brought with them typical ethnological and artistic objects of the cultures wherein they worked, with the purpose of introducing these items to the youth who were in training to substitute them. At the same time, these objects also served to shed great light on the distant cultures.
Initially, the missionaries took the roundtrip through Mexico. From 1869 onwards, since the opening of the Suez Canal, they would take this new route. Given that the trip to the East was now shorter, more missionaries would return home. Consequently, toward the end of the 19th century, the collections of the museum increased significantly.
A good number of the artistic pieces were brought to Europe for the Vatican Exposition of Missions that was held in 1925. For this purpose, the Augustinians sent to Rome collections of art originating from several countries of the East and the Latin America. Once the exposition came to a close, some pieces would be transferred to the Vatican Museums and the rest would be added to the collections already existing in Valladolid.
For the last twenty years, the Oriental Museum has been enriched by sundry hundreds of works from China, Japan and the Philippines. Besides the contributions made by various Augustinians and the acquisitions made by the museum itself, a significant number of donations from the friends of the museum has enhanced the collections.
Through this museum, the Augustinians want to share with the world the heritage of more than 400 years of missionary history. With this cultural endeavour, the Order desires to be of service to all, and at the same time contribute positively to dialogue and peace, especially with the peoples of the Far East: in opening up and publicising, instilling and esteeming their great cultural and religious wealth.