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New Delhi : M Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President of India & Chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Heads of Government in 2020, launched the first ever SCO Online Exhibition on Shared Buddhist Heritage during the 19th Meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government (SCO CHG) held in New Delhi on November 30, 2020, in video conference format.

This SCO online International exhibition, first ever of its kind, is developed and curated by National Museum, New Delhi, in active collaboration with SCO member countries. The exhibition deploys state of the art technologies like 3D scanning, webGL platform, virtual space utilisation, innovative curation,and narration methodology etc. The exhibition can be accessed at https://nmvirtual.in/ for worldwide viewing.

Buddhist philosophy and art of Central Asia,connects Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries to each other. This online international exhibition presents an excellent opportunity to visitors to access, appreciate, and compare Buddhist art antiquities from SCO countries on a single platform  from the comfort of their home.  Such transnational online exhibition also has potential to connect, heal, and rejuvenate communities in current pandemic times.

The participating institutions are National Museum (New Delhi), Indian Museum (Kolkata), National Museum of Kazakhstan, Dun Huang Academy (China), National Historical Museum of the Kyrgyz Republic, Museums of Pakistan, State Museum of Oriental Art, Moscow (Russia), National Museum and National Museum of Antiquities, Tajikistan, and renowned archaeological sites of Uzbekistan, according to a PIB release.

The visitors can explore the Indian Buddhist treasures from the Gandhara and Mathura Schools, Nalanda, Amaravati, Sarnath etc. in a 3D virtual format. The Pakistan hall depicts the life of Gautama Buddha and Buddhist Art through a collection of impressive Gandhara art objects from Karachi, Lahore,Taxlia, Islamabad, SWAT and Peshawar museums. They include fasting Siddhartha and footprint of Buddha from Sikri, meditating Buddha from SahriBahloi, miracle of Sravasti from Gandhara etc.

Over 100 objects from State Oriental Art Museum, Moscow, depict the Buddhist Buriyat Art of Russia through icons, ritual objects, monastery traditions etc. The Dunhuang Academy of China contributed a rich digital collection on Buddhist Art from Dunhunag that include ingenious architecture, resplendent murals, decorative designs, and costumes etc.

The marvels of Buddhist art from ancient Termez, Karatepa, Fayaztepa heritage sites can be seen in the Uzbekistan hall. The exhibition also showcases rare Buddhist art objects from various heritage sites and museums of Kazakhstan and Kyrygstan. The prime attraction of Tajikistan hall is the 13 meter long reclining – ‘Buddha in Nirvana’ from Ajina-Tepa.

National Museum, New Delhi, has unfolded a new dimension in museum experiences by developing this online 3D virtual exhibition. The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, in his Maan Ki Baat session on November 29, 2020, lauded National Museum, New Delhi, for its innovative efforts of using technology in cultural sector.