Dunhuang Collection in the British Library (29 May 2014)
On 29 May 2014 the British Chinese Workforce Heritage project was fortunate enough to go to the British Library with a group of volunteers for an introduction and tour of the Dunhuang Collection.
The tour started with an introduction by Mr Wingyui Wong, the Paper Conservator in the British Library (with 40 years' in paper conservatory, specialised in Chinese painting, previously worked in the British Museum, and the Art Museum of the Chinese University of Hong Kong). He introduced the history of the collection, including previous attempts to preserve it.
Project volunteers were then given a closer look at some of the conservation work that the British Library has conducted with a chance to ask questions.
The British Chinese Workforce Heritage project aims to provide a number of cultural and education events for its volunteers. In the past the project has also offered tickets to a Chinese painting exhibition at the V&A Museum.
Background Information on the collection: In the beginning of 20th century a huge of amount of Buddhists and Secular documents were discovered in the cave in Dunhuang in North West China of which was an important city of the Silk Road. The found documents dated from the 5th to the 10th century. Sir Marc Aurel Stein brought back a lot of them to England and kept in different institutions for many years. Most of these items became the Stein Collection at The British Library when the Library detached from the British Museum in 1973. The British Library has more than ten thousand of items in the collection. Most of the items in the collections are in the form of scroll or fragments and previously repaired or conserved with different method and material. Many of the scrolls had been lined with heavy craft paper and caused more damages to the objects. Some of them were faced with silk gauze on one or both sides. Fragments were mounted in glasses. The conservation project is to prevent further deterioration happening to these objects. Some typical conservation cases will demonstrate how and why these objects have been treated during the past few years.