For over twenty-five years, it has been the Getty Conservation Institute's great privilege to work with colleagues in China engaged in the conservation of cultural heritage. During this quarter century and more of professional engagement, China has undergone tremendous changes in its social, economic, and cultural life—changes that have included significant advancements in the conservation field. In this period of transformation, many Chinese cultural heritage institutions and organizations have striven to establish clear priorities and to engage in significant projects designed to further conservation and management of their nation's extraordinary cultural resources. We at the GCI have admiration and respect for both the progress and the vision represented in these efforts and are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage in China.
The contents of this edition of Conservation Perspectives are a reflection of our activities in China and of the evolution of policies and methods in the work of Chinese conservation professionals and organizations. The feature article offers a concise view of GCI involvement in several long-term conservation projects in China. Authored by Neville Agnew, Martha Demas, and Lorinda Wong—members of the Institute's China team—the article describes Institute work at sites across the country, including the Imperial Mountain Resort at Chengde, the Yungang Grottoes, and, most extensively, the Mogao Grottoes. Integrated with much of this work has been our participation in the development of the China Principles, a set of national guidelines for cultural heritage conservation and management that respect and reflect Chinese traditions and approaches to conservation.
For this edition, we also asked some of our Chinese colleagues to offer their perspectives on cultural heritage conservation in China today. Tong Mingkang, president of ICOMOS China and, until recently, the deputy director of China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage, charts the strides his country has made in cultural heritage conservation in the twenty-first century, as well as the challenges that continue. Wang Xudong, director of the Dunhuang Academy—an institutional partner of the GCI for decades—describes current work at the Academy and his vision for the Academy's future. And in our roundtable discussion, three leaders in Chinese cultural heritage conservation—Fan Jinshi, Zheng Jun, and Lu Zhou—explore the evolution of conservation theory and practice in the field in China. This edition also includes an article by Neville Agnew and Marcia Reed (an associate director at the Getty Research Institute) describing the 2016 exhibition at the Getty—Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China's Silk Road—that comprehensively presents the history, art, and conservation of the Mogao Grottoes.
The GCI's diverse efforts in China constitute one of this institution's most important and comprehensive undertakings. In this work, we have been fortunate to have as partners many thoughtful and dedicated Chinese colleagues, who have enriched our collective endeavors with perseverance, passion, and insight.
Timothy P. Whalen
Timothy P. Whalen