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Courtauld Institute of Art creation of a new MA programme in Buddhist Art. History and Conservation

The Courtauld Institute of Art announce the creation of a new MA programme in Buddhist Art: History and Conservation. Generously funded by an endowment of £2.5 million by the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation of Hong Kong, the programme will operate in collaboration with School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

17th-century painting in the Lama Lhakang, Trongsa Dzong, Bhutan. (Detail) Image © The Courtauld and the Department of Culture of Bhutan

Recognising the global significance of the vast cultural heritage of Buddhism, this innovative MA will, for the first time, combine the separate studies of Buddhism, Buddhist art and its conservation. This multidisciplinary challenge will be met by combining the international expertise of The Courtauld and SOAS, both colleges of the University of London. By advancing understanding and scholarship of what objects mean, how they are made, used and deteriorate, the MA will foster appreciation of their significance and need for preservation. The MA will address issues of the conservation of Buddhist art in varied contexts – in continuing use, at archaeological and historical sites, and in collections – throughout Asia and beyond. This diversity of modern context is matched by the wide range of types of object, from painted cave temples along the Silk Road, to colossal sculptures, delicate porcelain and illuminated manuscripts.

Professor Deborah Swallow, Märit Rausing Director of The Courtauld, and previously Keeper of the Asian Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum, said: “The new MA integrates The Courtauld’s strengths in conservation, art history and curating in a remarkably innovative manner. I am delighted that this initiative, which draws on the international excellence of our partner SOAS, reflects our long- term goals and those of the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, as well as The Courtauld’s expansion into the field of Asian art.”

“Until now, Buddhism and Buddhist art and its conservation have been studied separately,” Mr. Robert Y. C. Ho, Chairman of the Board of the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, said. “We are delighted to support the integration of these fields in a new programme that will impact not only on academia but on the preservation of irreplaceable treasures around the world, treasures we see disappearing on a daily basis. For the first time, the conservation of Buddhist art will be the focus of academic and practical study rather than relegated to a sideline or ignored completely. The concept behind the project is a direct reflection of the Foundation’s express interests in promoting education in the arts, nurturing talent, encouraging cross-cultural understanding and preserving traditional Chinese and Buddhist arts and cultural heritage.”

The Courtauld Institute of Art
Somerset House 2777 Strand, London, WC2R 0RN, UK
T: +44 (0)20 7848

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