Friday, November 15, 2013

IDP Quarterly Report: August — October 2013

Download this report PDF 193KB.


IDP is celebrating twenty years of successful endeavours at the British Library with a series of activities and events. Details can be found on the IDP website and blog. We hope many of you will join us in our celebrations.

Manuscript Audit and Move

IDP has been particularly busy over the past quarter helping colleagues throughout the Library with auditing, packing and moving the manuscripts to another secure location in the Library. This was to enable routine maintenance work to be carried out in the strongroom where they are normally held. The work on the fire damper systems included an element to enable access to the systems from outside, so that the manuscripts will not need to be moved again. However, this was an ideal opportunity to carry out a complete audit of the collections and to assess the storage. As a result, more storage space has been created in the strongroom, in anticipation of future growth of the collections following conservation and rehousing of some of the material. The work was completed on time and the manuscripts are now available again for readers (as of 17 November).


The Dunhuang Foundation, a US-based organisation founded to support the work of the Dunhuang Academy and related activities, generously gave $12,100 to IDP and the Needham Research Institute to digitise and catalogue photographs and archives relating to Joseph Needham’s two visits to Dunhuang in 1943 and 1958. Once online, The Dunhuang Academy will help with further identifications of the subjects of the photographs.


  • Susan Whitfield (SW) was interviewed by Tianjin TV (China) and China Central TV for their forthcoming programmes on Dunhuang, looking especially at Stein and Needham’s visit. She also helped the BBC for their Culture Show programme on the Chinese painting exhibition currently on display at the V&A Museum, London.
  • SW was interviewed by Jacob Mikanowski for a New Yorker blog, which appeared on 9 October.
  • The Italian publication, Archeo ran a special issue on the Silk Road including an interview with SW.


We welcomed Lizzie Vickery and Sarah Wall to IDP in August. They will be working in the studio as Digital Imaging Assistants.

Conferences and Lectures

  • 19-21 September: SW, Vic Swift (VS) and John Falconer (JF, Lead Curator, Photographs), attended the final workshop in the AHRC-funded Silk Road Network, organised by Nottingham University. JF presented a paper.
  • 24 - 27 September: SW and Sam van Schaik (SvS) both gave papers at a conference in St Petersburg on the life and legacy of Sergei Oldenburg. They also met with curators from the State Hermitage Museum and IDP Berlin partners for ongoing discussions of potential collaboration.
  • 21 October: SvS lectured to students on a SOAS Diploma course on Indian art.
  • 24 October: SW lectured to students on a Christies’ Diploma course on Chinese art.
  • 30 October: SW lectured to students on the SOAS MA in Art and Archaeology of the Silk Road.

Visitors and Meetings

  • 7 August: SW met with Niyati Mehta, Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, to discuss IDP and view the Diamond Sutra.
  • 10 August: SW and JF met with Declan Hayden to discuss the Desmond Parsons’ archive and Parson’s visit to Dunhuang in 1935.
  • 19 August: Emma Goodliffe (EG) and Josef Konczak (JK) met with Haitham Sayed Osman, Head of Imaging for the TIFDAK Project in Cairo, to discuss imaging techniques and introduce the work of the IDP Studio.
  • 27 August: EG met with the scholar Dr Liu Zhengcheng and his daughter Cynthia Liu to discuss Dr Liu’s publication on Chinese calligraphy based on the Dunhuang manuscripts.
  • 10 September: a group of scholars visited the BL to view a selection of Manichaean manuscripts, and SW helped Ursula Sims-Williams with the Show and Tell.
  • 23 September: EG and JK provide a studio tour to visitors from the National Archives of Japan.
  • 26 September: EG acted as interpreter for the Chinese State Archives Show and Tell at the British Library.

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