Published 09/01/17

Dunhuang reclining Buddha statue

Reclining Buddha statue from the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang, China

Replica of ancient cave will transport visitors to China's Silk Road

For ten days this fall, Bryant University will use virtual reality and painstakingly reconstructed replicas to bring an ancient Chinese cave and its artistic treasures to campus. 

Dunhuang: An Oasis for East-West Cultural, Commercial, and Religious Exchanges Along the Ancient Silk Road  opens Sept. 27 in the George E. Bello Center for Information and Technology. Bryant is the first academic institution in the United States to host this interactive exhibition.

The centerpiece is a replica of Cave 285 of the Mogao Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Gansu Province, China. This visually rich 6th-century cave is known for its exceptional collection of Buddhist artworks.

Through Oct. 6, guided tours will take visitors through the exhibition — a panoramic projection of the cave site — and into the reconstructed cave, an experience that will incorporate virtual reality. Events related to the exhibition include a series of seminars focusing on arts, culture, history, and religions represented in these caves.

Tickets for the tour are available online. 

Dunhuang was a melting pot of cultures and religions between the the 4th and 14th centuries. Travelers to Dunhuang dug caves into the nearby cliff faces, then decorated the caves with art in the hope of ensuring safety and success along the Silk Road. The result: The Mogao Caves house one of the world’s most extensive sites of Buddhist murals, statues, manuscripts, as well as art from Islamic and Greek cultures.

The exhibition is coordinated by Bryant University and Dunhuang Academy and co-sponsored by the Confucius Institute Headquarters and Government of Gansu Province. After its 10-day run at Bryant, the exhibition will travel to other U.S. colleges and universities, including to the University of Maryland, University of New Hampshire, and West Virginia University. When the U.S. tour concludes, portions of the exhibit will be donated to Bryant for permanent display.