Dunhuang Museum, China

Dipping deep into the history of China - Dunhuang Museum

Construction of the Dunhuang museum was launched in October 1979. The museum itself was established on the basis of the department of archeology at the city’s Cultural Center. The Museum has a rich collection on the history and culture of this region. It contains unique exhibits from the Mogao cave temple complex, which were collected by archaeologists from all over the world.

However the Dunhuang Museum keeps not only archaeological and historical findings, but also a lot of items depicting the culture of China and its development over several millennia. You can even find unique pieces belonging to the epoch of Great Silk Road.

The construction of the Dunhuang Museum took several years, the last exhibition hall was opened as late as 1984. The three-storey Museum of total area of 2400 m2, keeps a huge collection numbering over 4,000 exhibits.

Every day the Museum has several exhibitions operating in its territory. The first of them is a collection of scrolls with sutras found in the famous Mogao Caves. For many centuries the Mogao Caves with their amazing small temples, murals and sculptures of “the Thousand Buddhas” were forgotten and partially buried under layers of sand. In 1900, a monk named Wang found a sealed cave with hidden 50,000 scrolls in various languages, including the dead ones, many of which were of a religious nature. Many of these scrolls, including the Diamond Sutra, the world’s first and oldest printed book, were taken out by Auriel Stein in 1907 to the UK. However, most of these scrolls - unique cultural heritage of China are kept in the Dunhuang Museum.

Another interesting collection, displayed in the Museum is archaeological finds from the graves of the Han, Jin, Sui and Tang dynasties. They include different relics, tables, household items, sculptures of mythical animal Qilin, jewelry made of precious metals and stones, and many other things that were buried with the rulers and their families. This collection strikes with its variety and versatility. Each exhibit has its own small story, depicting the way of life, led by the Chinese almost three thousand years ago.

The Dunhuang Museum has another one, the third permanent collection, dedicated to the Great Silk Road. Dunhuang was long one of the main strategic points, located on the Silk Road, in the place where the route split into Northern and Southern branches. The Museum keeps various kinds of silk products: fabrics, carpets, clothes, which were the main products exported from China to Europe. In addition to the silk products, this exhibition presents a diverse jewelries and ancient Chinese weapons.

This exhibition also includes findings from the Great Wall of China, a section of which stretches not far from the city. It collected signal flares, fragments of the wall, maquettes and models of the Great Wall, which allow assessing the whole its splendor.

The museum contains some of the most diverse and at the same time interrelated collections that give a complete picture of the life and history of China as a whole.