Buddha. Collectors open their treasuries – 232 masterpieces show 2,000 years of Buddhist art

Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site
25 June 2016 – 5 March 2017

Until Sunday 5 March 2017, the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site presents its major exhibition “Buddha”. The exhibition has gathered together 232 top quality exhibits dating back over the last 2,000 years to make this most central theme of Asia really come alive. Masterpieces of Buddhist art from the ancient region of Gandhara (in what was formerly north-western India) as well as from India, China, Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Indonesia, Nepal and Tibet recreate an image of one of our earth’s oldest world cultures and form a defining portrait of Buddha. For the Buddha exhibition at the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site private collectors from around the globe have opened their treasure chambers. Many of these exhibits are to be displayed for the very first time in public. The objects come solely from private collections and have never before been seen in such magnitude. The exhibition is under the patronage of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

“The 21st century has seen the Asian continent gain greatly in economic and cultural significance around the globe. Our “Buddha” exhibition represents Völklinger Hütte’s first encounter with the omnipresent topic of Asia. It showcases a range of exquisite masterpieces and provides comprehensive insights into the Buddhist art of Asia”, explains Meinrad Maria Grewenig, General Director of the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site.

The Buddha exhibition centers around three major epochal themes: The emergence of the first images of the Buddha during the Kushan period (this occurred almost simultaneously in the Gandhara and Mathura schools), the development of the Buddha image from ancient times through to modern day Asia, and the world view of Buddhism. Moreover, the meditational images included in the exhibition invite visitors to ponder Buddhism’s manifold imagery.

The art works evidence highly developed and cosmopolitan Asian realms and show the transnational cultural and artistic relationships that have been created or deepened throgh Buddhism. 232 masterpieces spanning over 2,000 years of Buddhist art enable a unique overview of Buddhist art ranging from the 1st century BC to the 18th century. Sculptures of bronze, gold, stone and wood are to be found alongside the multi-layered meditation pictures – the Thangkas (religious rolled paintings).

The “Buddha” exhibition at the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site includes pieces of exceptional rarity and outstanding exquisiteness. Indeed, according to experts, certain works count among the finest examples of their kind; some are even the most significant specimens in the world. The “Buddha” exhibition is the most important pan-Asian Buddhism exhibition ever to be held.

Together with the comprehensive accompanying programme the exihibition „Buddha“ is opening a portal into the Buddhist culture of Asia. On its grounds of over 600,000m2 the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site has set up the “path to knowledge” with eight meditation stations. In the burden shed the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site shows 40 large format photographs of the famous American photographer Steve McCurry, which he took on his numerous travels to Tibet, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, China, Japan, Thailand and Cambodia.

A visitor service has been set up for the “Buddha” exhibition (available on 0049-6898-9100-100 or via email at visit@voelklinger-huette.org) through which group bookings can be made.

The Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site in Germany is the only fully preserved ironworks of industrial culture. As such, it serves as a testament to the industrial age, and will continue to do so for generations to come. The site regularly offers cultures from around the world a forum, thus creating a space for intercultural dialog.

A comprehensive English-language catalog to accompany the exhibition has been published by Meinrad Maria Grewenig and Eberhard Rist. All the 232 works exhibited are featured in full-page four-coloured print and have been newly accademicly researched.



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