The spectacular World Heritage site of the Mogao Grottoes, located along the Silk Road near Dunhuang in western China, comprises 492 painted caves, which were excavated into a mile-long cliff face between the fourth and fourteenth centuries. The paintings in these cave temples represent the highest achievements of Buddhist culture and arts and are a crystallization of the integration and exchange between civilizations in ancient China and those to the west along the Silk Road. The GCI and the Dunhuang Academy (DA) have worked together continuously since 1989 to conserve this heritage, with strong support from China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH).
To celebrate twenty years of collaboration, Dunhuang Academy Director Fan Jinshi presented the GCI with a commemorative plaque at a reception in September 2009. The celebratory event was attended by the deputy director of SACH, Tong Mingkang, and other senior officials from Beijing and Gansu Provincial Cultural Heritage Bureau.
The anniversary of the GCI–Dunhuang Academy collaboration coincided with the sixtieth anniversary celebration of the founding of the People's Republic of China. This presented an occasion for national recognition of Director Fan, who was named by the Chinese government as one of the hundred most influential people in China for her work at the Mogao Grottoes. She was awarded gold medals by President Hu Jintao for her lifelong commitment to the study and preservation of the site.
The strong and effective partnership between the GCI and the Dunhuang Academy is a model of the Institute's approach to working in the field—addressing problems of international relevance in a systematic manner over the long term, fostering professional relationships, and building the capacity of conservation professionals in China, including hosting Dunhuang Academy staff at the GCI for extended periods of study, research, and training.
Recently the seventh-phase agreement (for a period of three years) was signed between the GCI and SACH. Collaboration with the Dunhuang Academy will continue under the agreement in a number of areas, including scientific research on organic colorants. In the first part of 2010, the GCI hosted DA scientist Dr. Fan Yuquan. Later in the year, deputy director Dr. Wang Xudong will visit the GCI for detailed discussions on the direction of joint efforts.