Monks and the Camera

Three Buddhist monks standing on a rock by the sea.

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How an archive of Buddhist photographs was discovered and rescued in Laos.

From 2006 to 2011, the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) sponsored three projects to secure the Buddhist Archive of Photography in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Laos. 35,000 photographs were identified, preserved and digitised.

Photographer and writer Hans Georg Berger reveals the story of this remarkable collection, and his meeting with The Most Venerable Phra Khamchan Virachitta Maha Thera, Abbot of Vat Saen Sukharam, who had been collecting photographs for more than 70 years. Berger has an in depth understanding of an archive that spans 120 years and the importance it plays in the wider context of world photography.

The EAP Programme, established by Arcadia, a charitable trust of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, awards grants to secure, digitise and make available online vulnerable material from around the world. Documents are digitised in situ and the projects have local capacity-building at their core.

Hans Georg Berger is a principal investigator for the three EAP projects.

A selection from the Buddhist Archive of Photography is currently on display on the Second Floor Gallery, inSacred Laos in Photographs: The Monks’ Gaze. It runs until 9 February 2020.

In partnership with Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.

Image © The Buddhist Archive of Photography, Luang Prabang.

Part of our Buddhism exhibition events series. See more events and adult courses inspired by the exhibition.


Name: Monks and the Camera
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Price: Free Event: £0.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546