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London – New Gallery for V&A’s renowned collection of Buddhist Sculpture


New Gallery for V&A’s

Renowned Collection of Buddhist Sculpture

London, UK —

vna.jpgOpening 29 April 2009

The V&A will open The Robert H. N. Ho Family
Foundation Gallery in April, the first gallery for Buddhist
sculpture in the UK. The new day-lit gallery will display
highlights from the V&A’s world class collection of
Buddhist sculpture ranging from monumental Chinese
temple sculptures to tiny portable gilded Buddhas. On
display for the first time will be an early surviving image
of the meditating Buddha (c.300 AD) from North West
India and a 17th-century gilded figure of the saviouress
Tara from Nepal.

Around 50 sculptures created by master craftsmen between AD 200 and 1850 will be shown
in the new gallery to explore how the Buddha has been represented in Asian art. The Gallery
will tell the story of the life of the Buddha and the spread of Buddhism from India to the
other regions of Asia. The sculptures will be arranged in geographic groupings
demonstrating the diversity of artistic expression throughout Asia and will reflect the
differing Buddhist practices of India, Sri Lanka, the Himalayas, Burma, Java, Thailand, China
and Japan.

The new displays will include a majestic gilded copper figure of Bodhisattva Padmapani
from Nepal, richly decorated with precious stones, and an 18th-century monumental gilt
bronze seated Buddha from Tibet. Stone and metal Buddhist images from India and the
Himalayas will be shown alongside recently restored 19th-century oil paintings which record
the famous 5th-century murals in the rock-cut Buddhist monasteries of Ajanta in central
India. Life-size replicas of the sculptural reliefs from the 8th-century Javanese Buddhist
temple of Borobudur will also be on display.

A section focussing on East Asia will include a powerful 7th-century marble torso of the
Buddha from Tang dynasty China and the head of a monumental Buddha once carved
directly into the rock face of a 6th-century cave temple complex at Xiangtangshan, northern
China. The Japanese Buddhist sculptural tradition will be represented by an 18th-century
standing bronze figure of Fudo, the protector of religion.

The spectacular three metre high Mandalay Shrine, a rare surviving piece from the now
destroyed royal palace at Mandalay in Burma, will go on display in the Museum for the first
time. This wood and lacquer shrine will be shown complete with its ensemble of offering
vessels, attendant figures and manuscript case. Based on Burmese royal thrones of the
period, the shrine demonstrates the close relationship between beliefs in the spiritual rule
of the Buddha and that of the Burmese king’s semi divine status.

The gallery has been made possible by a generous lead donation from the Robert H. N. Ho
Family Foundation and a grant of £300,000 from the DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries
Improvement Fund.

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Gallery is part of the V&A’s FuturePlan to transform
the museum through new galleries and beautiful redisplays of its collections. The Gallery
will include an interactive display to explain the meaning of the hand gestures and poses
used in Buddhist sculpture. There will also be two films; one will look at the ancient
Buddhist monasteries of Ajanta in central India and Tabo in Tibet; the other will show the
living traditions of contemporary Buddhist practice in the Indian Himalayas.

London - The V&A .
London – The V&A .

Notes to editors

  • The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation is a Hong Kong based philanthropic organisation
    committed to fostering Asian arts and culture. Working towards these goals with global
    perspective, the Foundation supports arts and Buddhist programmes both in its home base
    and internationally. The Robert H. N. Ho Foundation Gallery at the V&A is the Foundation’s
    first significant museum project in the UK. To learn more about the Foundation visit
  • The Gallery is redesigned by Adriana Ferlauto, V&A Design.
  • The lead curator of the Gallery is John Clarke and the consultant curator is Beth
  • The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Gallery will be situated on the ground floor of
    the Museum alongside the John Madejski Garden and adjacent to the Dorothy and Michael
    Hintze Sculpture Galleries for British Sculpture.
  • Entrance to the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Gallery will be FREE, as is admission
    to the V&A.
  • In association with the V&A, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation will also be
    presenting a series of related events at the Museum to celebrate the opening of the Gallery.

These include a day of Buddhist dance and an international forum to investigate the ways in
which contemporary art practice is inspired by Buddhist thought.

  • For further PRESS information and images please contact Carrie Rees in the V&A
  • Press Office on 020 7942 2502 or


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