Established in 2012 with a munificent endowment to The Courtauld from The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation of Hong Kong, the Centre reflects the Ho Foundation’s express interests in promoting education in the arts, and in encouraging cross-cultural understanding and the preservation of the Buddhist cultural heritage. The Centre builds on the research, conservation and teaching in Asia—in Bhutan, China and India—by The Courtauld’s Conservation of Wall Painting Department, and also The Courtauld’s expansion beyond the Western art tradition marked by the recent appointment of two new teaching posts in Asian art history [pdf].
The Centre has a distinguished International Advisory Board
A major role of the Centre will be to provide an MA in Buddhist Art: History and Conservationannually from 2013. Recognising the global significance of the vast cultural heritage of Buddhism, this innovative MA will, for the first time, combine the separate studies of Buddhism, Buddhist art and its conservation. Taught by a wide range of specialists, the multidisciplinary course will advance understanding and scholarship of what objects mean, how they are made, used and deteriorate, and foster appreciation of their significance and need for preservation.
In announcing the new MA, Robert Y. C. Ho, Chairman of the Ho Family Foundation, remarked, ‘Until now, Buddhism and Buddhist art and its conservation have been studied separately. We are delighted to support the integration of these fields in a new program that will impact not only on academia but on the preservation of irreplaceable treasures around the world, treasures we see disappearing on a daily basis.’
Other activities of the Centre will include conferences and public lectures, of which a forerunner was The Buddhist Art Forum [pdf] held at The Courtauld from 11 to 14 April 2012 . Likewise addressing issues of the production, use, study, display and conservation of Buddhist art, the Forum brought together varied specialists and stakeholders from around the world to explore their connection, and the Proceedings will be published in summer 2013.
A further event in 2013 will be the premiere of the TV documentary, The Hidden Art of the Buddha, which focuses on The Courtauld’s conservation work in Asia.