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Conservator Ann Shaftel on "Science and the Sacred: The Preservation of Buddhist Thangka"

Ann Shaftel first discovered the art form of the thangka on a school visit to the museum. For nearly five decades, Ms. Shaftel has worked in the conservation of Buddhist diaspora art in monasteries and museums. Besides working with private collectors, museums, universities and monasteries, Ms. Shaftel also teaches internationally. Her work in Treasure Caretaker Training won the prestigious Digital Empowerment Foundation’s Chairman’s Choice award. Ms Shaftel is a Fellow of the International Institute for Conservation, Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation, Canadian Association of Professional Conservators, and member of ICOM and ICOMOS.

You can follow Ms. Shaftel on her Twitter account and through the website

This Friday, 12 October, Ms. Shaftel will be presenting research at the Hong Kong University in an event organised by the HKU Centre of Buddhist Studies, sponsored by Tung Lin Kok Yuen. Speaking on "Science and the Sacred: The Preservation of Buddhist Thangka."


This richly illustrated presentation examines the relationship between preservation science and Buddhist teaching of impermanence, using the thangka as example.

The Buddhist tenet of impermanence challenges the scientific approach to conservation, concerned with longevity, stabilisation and limitation of change.

Buddhist teachers and artists interviewed by the speaker since 1970 have interpreted the relationship between impermanence and preservation of sacred art differently. Diverse approaches to the preservation of thangkas in traditional monasteries, in museums, and during advanced scientific inquiry will be presented, followed by lively discussion.

Time: 7-9 pm on 12th Oct., 2018 (Friday)

Venue: Theatre A, Chow Yei Ching Building, University Street G/F, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam

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