Dunhuang brings architecture depicted in murals to life with 3D technology

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An exhibition showcasing models of the architecture painted in the murals of the Mogao Grottoes has opened in Dunhuang City, northwest China's Gansu Province.

A total of 419 items, including cave models made of paper, 3D-printed architectural models and digital renderings of the murals in the Mogao Grottoes, are on display after seven years of planning, according to the Dunhuang Academy.

The academy has turned the pavilions, terraces and towers depicted in 26 murals into architectural models, said Fu Hualin, a researcher at the academy. This is the first time the academy has brought the architecture depicted in the murals to life on a large scale.

The largest exhibit is a Buddhist temple complex from the Tang Dynasty (618-907). With a diameter of 4 meters, the model took researchers a year to build.

"These models are not only similar to the architecture in the murals, but they also have good stability," Fu said.

Academy researchers began studying the architecture depicted in the murals in the 1940s, providing academic support for the exhibition, according to Fu.

Entry to the permanent exhibition will be free to the public, the academy said.

Mogao Grottoes is a UNESCO world heritage site and home to a vast collection of Buddhist artwork — more than 2,000 colored sculptures and 45,000 square meters of murals. 

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