Mogao Caves available to visit…in Los Angeles - News in Conservation, Issue 49, 2015

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©Bauiruilong CC BY-SA 4.0

LOS Angeles – From May 2016 visitors of the Getty Museum will be introduced to the spectacular Mogao caves, an ancient Silk Road site dating from the 4th to 14th centuries. The exhibition “Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road will allow visitors to explore through a set of replicas reconstructed in the museum, the tremendous significance of the diverse art and artifacts from this UNESCO World Heritage site, and learn about the challenges faced in its preservation. A total of three caves will be reconstructed out of the 500 surviving today in Dunhuang.
Organized by the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Research Institute (GRI), the Dunhuang Academy, and the Dunhuang Foundation, Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road celebrates the over 25 years of collaboration between the GCI and the Dunhuang Academy to conserve and protect this World Heritage site.
At the presentation of the event, Jim Cuno, President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust said: “This exhibition is the product of years of hard work and cooperation between the Getty Conservation Institute and their partners in Dunhuang to conserve the extraordinary legacy of the Mogao caves, arguably the most important and beautiful pictorial evidence of the transmission of Buddhism along the Silk Road,”
The three full-size cave replicas, hand painted by artists at the Dunhuang Academy, will be installed on the Getty Centre’s plaza, allowing visitors to experience the cave temples for themselves and to learn about their conservation.
The exhibition will include paintings on silk, textiles, drawings, and manuscripts on loan from the British Museum, the British Library, the Musée Guimet, and the Bibliothèque nationale of France—objects that have rarely, if ever, travelled to the United States. Alongside the replicas of the caves, the exhibition will also feature other masterpieces such as the Diamond Sutra that for the occasion was allowed to leave the British library to travel to Los Angeles. Believed to be the oldest complete printed book in the world, the Diamond Sutra is a 4.5 metres long Buddhist religious scroll.
The Getty Conservation Institute, in collaboration with China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the Dunhuang Academy, has been heavily involved since 1989 in trying to find the best methods to preserve and restore the Mogao paintings, and to develop ways to manage the site that will offset some of the ill-effects of tourism.