The British Library
The British Library is not a museum as such, but it houses one of the world's great collections of rare manuscripts and books. In addition to a continuous exhibition of some of its rarities (for example, books and manuscripts from Dunhuang), it has a roomy special exhibit hall where one can view some of the most exciting exhibitions of cultural artifacts to be seen anywhere. In 2004 there was one on the Silk Road; the one currently on display (in mid-2007) is "Sacred: Discover what we share
The world's greatest collection of Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy books." The Library is in a position of being able easily to draw on some of the other remarkable collections in the UK and supplements displays of the written word with related artifacts. The Internet viewer should head directly to the Online Gallery page, with links to substantial and technically innovative material. For example, one can turn pages of Sultan Baybars' Qur'an, hear the Arabic text being recited, read a translation of it, or hear a discussion of it in English. What until recently was known as the world's oldest printed book, The Diamond Sutra, can be scrolled through while one listens to or reads a very informative explanation of its contents. To use this wonderful feature of the BL site requires downloading some software, which the site will do automatically providing you OK the installation with your computer's security software. The Library's educational resources pages have a wide range of interesting material as well.
For the Silk Road, the most important aspect of the British Library collections and activity is the fact that it is home to the International Dunhuang Project. This major international project has recently celebrated a decade of remarkable achievement in cultivating the cooperation of the repositories around the world which house materials from the important Silk Road site of Dunhuang and related material concerning the East Asian part of the Silk Road. The British Library itself is a repository for one of the two largest collections of Dunhuang manuscripts and books. The goal of IDP is to put all of the material online in searchable databases with high quality images and supporting documentation. The Silk Road will be on line--manuscripts, paintings, artifacts, photographs--along with catalogues, studies, educational programs and much more. One can already view on the site a significant number of the Dunhuang manuscripts brought back to Britain by Aurel Stein, most of the Dunhuang paintings in his collection, and all of the textiles from the sizeable collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The other major collections of Dunhuang material--for example, in Paris and St. Petersburg--will be part of this, as will the material still in China. In conjunction with the Silk Road exhibit at the British Library in 2004, the IDP posted an extensive set of annotated exhibit images. There are a few other educational resources for school children and general learners; that kind of material can be expected to grow. Mirror sites for the project are available in several other languages. For an overview of IDP and its activities, visit its website and/or read the article by its Director, Dr. Susan Whitfield, in The Silk Road, Vol. 3, no. 2, which may be accessed via the Silkroad Foundation website.
The British Museum
See Silk Road Seattle's page on The British Museum.
The Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art
The Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art. University of London.
You will find this outstanding collection of Chinese ceramics only a few blocks from the British Museum. The web pages provide an excellent
introduction, with good descriptive text and splendid enlargeable images.
The Victoria and Albert Museum
See Silk Road Seattle's page on The Victoria and Albert Museum.