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Spatial Dunhuang: Experiencing the Mogao Caves

October 25 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Constructed over a millennium from the fourth to fourteenth centuries CE near Dunhuang, an ancient border town along the Silk Road in northwest China, the Mogao Caves comprise the largest, most continuously created, and best-preserved treasure trove of Buddhist art in the world.

Join us at China Institute with distinguished art historian Wu Hung from University of Chicago and world art professor Shen Hsueh-man from New York University to re-discover the art of Dunhuang. Instead of tracing the caves’ unilinear history, the two speakers will share with the audience a novel way of examining Mogao Caves as physical and historical sites that can be approached, entered, and understood sensually, a perspective of space prioritizing the actual experiences of the people who built and used the caves.

If you are interested in Chinese art and want to learn more about Mogao Caves—a UNESCO World Heritage site that is famous for its religious, cultural and intellectual influences, don’t miss this opportunity to interact with the iconic experts at China Institute!

All visitors must bring a photo ID when entering the building and present proof of COVID vaccination. Masks are highly recommended when on site at China Institute.

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Wu Hung, a permanent member of the American Academy of Art and Science and the recipient of a Harvard University honorary degree, is a famous art historian, critic, and curator. Currently he holds the Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professorship at the Department of Art History and the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, and is also the director of the Center for the Art of East Asia and the Consulting Curator at the Smart Museum at the same university. He sits on many international committees including Guggenheim Museum’s Asian Art Council, and chairs the Academic Committees of OCT Contemporary Art Terminal and Yuz Museum. Wu Hung’s research interests include both traditional and contemporary art. Regarding contemporary art, he has curated many exhibitions since the 1980s, including individual artists’ one-person shows, thematic group exhibitions, and biennales and triennials. In addition to the catalogues that he compiled for these exhibitions, he has published many influential books and anthologies, including his newest book to be published in December 2022: Spatial Dunhuang: Experiencing the Mogao Caves.

Shen Hsueh-man is Ehrenkranz Associate Professor in World Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Shen received her Ph.D. in Archaeology at the University of Oxford and M.A. in Art History at National Taiwan University. Her research on the art and material culture of premodern China focuses on the transmission of ideas, technologies, and objects across time and space. She has published books, articles, and book chapters, as well as curating exhibitions of varied subjects. She is author of the recent book entitled Authentic Replicas: Buddhist Art in Medieval China (2019). Among her exhibitions was Gilded Splendor: Treasures of China’s Liao Empire that opened at the Asia Society Museum in New York and subsequently travelled to Germany and Switzerland (2006-2007). More recently she co-curated (with Dr. Mimi G. Gates) the special exhibition, Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road, to open at the Getty Center in 2016. She is currently working on a book manuscript to explore how maritime connections reconfigured the cultural boundaries of East Asia during the long twelfth century.


October 25
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Category:


China Institute
40 Rector Street, 2 Floor
New York, NY 10006 United States
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