Located in the desert city of Dunhuang, a strategic point along the Silk Road, the Mogao Caves are a group of caves and artistic works that have stood since the 4th century and served as the crossroads of trade, cultural, religious and artistic efforts. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the 492 caves are built over five levels and house more than 2,000 painted sculptures and almost 485,000 square feet of murals, spanning 1,000 years of Buddhist art. Additional caves contain other masterpieces of Chinese art, tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts (housed in the appropriately named Library Cave) and other ancient treasures. While many of these historic objects are available for the public to see, some of the world-renowned murals are too delicate and therefore not open for public viewing.
A new project, however, is bringing these murals to the public in an exciting new way. The Dunhuang Academy has taken thousands of high-definition images of the Buddhist murals from each cave and merged them into 3-D film. Visitors can then view the 3D footage and feel like they’re enjoying the caves (which are usually off limits to the public) for themselves first-hand. A new dome theater at the Mogao Caves will officially open to the public in August of this year and the film will be available there.