The Dunhuang Heritage: Digital Preservations and Challenges


July 17, 2013


Mimi Gardner Gates, Curtis Wong, Xudong Wang, and Hsiao-Wuen Hon


Seattle Art Museum, Microsoft Research, Dunhuang Academy, Microsoft Research Asia


Discover the Buddhist caves of Dunhuang, a magnificent World Heritage site on the ancient Silk Road in northwest China. Here four major cultures – Greece and Rome, Persia and the Middle East, India, Central Asia and China – intersected for over 1,000 years, from the 4th to the 14th centuries. The historic, religious, and artistic importance of the site’s 492 decorated cave temples will be briefly explored, conveying the artistic beauty and profound Buddhist meaning of this site. Equally compelling is the significant preservation challenges which Dunhuang faces and how those challenges are being addressed through international partnerships. Learn about the important role that advanced technologies play in digital preservation and the challenges. The last session will invite you to join a joint discussion with three panelists, and to learn how we can participate the efforts of protecting a rare world heritage.

Lecture 1: The Buddhist Caves of Dunhuang: Treasure Trove in the Chinese Gobi Desert by Mimi Gardner Gates
Lecture 2: The Dunhuang Heritage: Digital Preservations and Challenges by Xudong Wang
Panel discussion: The Dunhuang Heritage: How can we help?
 Panelists:
Mimi Gardner Gates, Director Emerita, Seattle Art Museum
Xudong Wang, Vice Director, Dunhuang Academy
Hsiao-Wuen Hon, Managing Director, Microsoft Research Asia
 Moderator: Lolan Song, Senior Director of Microsoft Research Connection, MSRA


Mimi Gardner Gates, Curtis Wong, Xudong Wang, and Hsiao-Wuen Hon

Dr. Mimi Gardner Gates, now director emerita, was director of the Seattle Art Museum for 15 years (1994-2009). Under her leadership, the Olympic Sculpture Park was created; the downtown museum was expanded; and the artistic program achieved a high level of excellence. Gates is a scholar of the history of Chinese art with a B.A. from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from Yale University. Prior to moving to Seattle, she served as curator of Asian art and the director of the Yale University Art Gallery. In the field of Chinese art she has taught, published essays and organized numerous exhibitions. Currently, she chairs The Dunhuang Foundation and the Board of Managers of the Blakemore Foundation, is a former fellow of the Yale Corporation and oversees the Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Curtis Wong is Principal Researcher focusing on interaction, media, and visualization technologies. He has authored more than 45 patents pending in areas such as interactive television, media browsing, visualization, search, gaming and learning. He is also co-author of Microsoft’s 5,000th patent in 2006 and 10,000th patent in 2009. He and his collaborators have built advanced prototypes which have influenced Microsoft products and have been featured in numerous executive keynotes on the future of computing.

He spends some of his time working with selected non-profit organizations to develop examples of next generation media such as his collaboration with WGBH Frontline to produce The Age of AIDS on the global AIDS pandemic and the broadband enhanced documentary Commanding Heights ~ The Battle for the World Economy, winning a British Academy Award and nominated for the first interactive TV Emmy.

His most recent project was Project Tuva which features the highly regarded 1964 Messenger Series lectures of Nobel Prize winning Physicist Richard Feynman within a unique interactive rich media player. Users can experience the lectures with rich interactive simulations and related content.

The WorldWide Telescope featuring the largest collection of the highest resolution ground and space based imagery ever assembled into a single learning environment inspiring millions of kids around the world to explore and understand the Universe.

Prior to Microsoft in 1997, Curtis was Director of Intel Productions where he conceived and developed the first Broadband blockbuster art museum exhibition network on the Web. Curtis was also responsible for creation of the first enhanced digital television program broadcast in the US – The Poetry of Structure accompanying the broadcast of the Ken Burns film Frank Lloyd Wright. Prior to Intel, Curtis was General Manager of Corbis Productions where he was responsible for the creation of a critically acclaimed series of CD-ROM’s including: A Passion for Art , Critical Mass, FDR and Leonardo da Vinci. Before Corbis, Curtis was producer for the Voyager Company where he was responsible for Multimedia Beethoven and Amanda Stories – two of the first ten multimedia CD-ROM’s for the PC as well as a number of award winning feature films for the Criterion Collection.

Curtis has served on numerous not for profit boards including the Seattle Art Museum, the Rhode Island School of Design, PBS Kids in Washington D.C., Ovation – The Arts Network, PBS Online and as served as an advisor to the The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee for the National Constitution Center, the Canadian Film Centre, American Film Institute, and the Barnes Foundation. He is a voting member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Emmys), a member of the American Astronomical Society. Curtis is included in Richard Saul Wurman’s book, Who’s Really Who: 1000 Most Creative Individuals in the USA as well as Interactive Week’s roster of “the 50 most powerful people in the interactive industry.”

Prof. Xudong Wang serves as the vice director of Dunhuang Academy and is the vice director of the National Research Center for Conservation of Ancient Wall Paintings and Earthen Sites. He also is the director of the SACH Key Scientific Research Base for Ancient Wall Paintings Conservation, president of the International Society of Rock Mechanics’ (ISRM) Commission on Preservation of Ancient Sites and the vice chairman of the China Association for the Preservation Technology of Cultural Relics. Prof. Wang is a guest professor at Lanzhou University and Northwest University in China, as well as in charge of international collaborative projects between the Dunhuang Academy and the Getty Conservation Institute, Tokyo National Institute of Culture Property, Courtauld Institute of Art, Microsoft Research Asia and Japan International Institute for Advanced Studies.


  • Portrait of Hsiao-Wuen Hon

    Hsiao-Wuen Hon

    Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Asia-Pacific R&D Group, Microsoft Research Asia