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Conserve the Buddha

Learn how you can support one of the Museum’s most-visited works of art.

Buddha Restoration

The centerpiece of the RISD Museum’s Asian art collection is the 12th century Dainichi Nyorai Buddha, one of the largest Japanese statues in the U.S. at nearly 10 feet high. The Buddha is said to have come from the Rokuon-ji, a temple of the Esoteric (Shingon) Buddhist sect. The Rokuon-ji temple was destroyed by fire in the 17th century, but the RISD Museum’s Buddha figure was saved and stored in a Japanese farmhouse. It was purchased by the Museum in 1936 and has resided in a special gallery on the 6th floor of the Museum’s Eliza Radeke building, where visitors of all ages make special trips to see this much beloved work of art.

Carved after 1150 CE from blocks of hollowed wood joined together with metal clips, the seated figure represents the supreme, transcendent Buddha from whom all other Buddhas and all aspects of the universe emanate. The symbolic gesture of his hands indicates pure meditation and the attainment of spiritual perfection.

For the last 75 years, the sculpture has been on continuous public display and needs some care. While the 6th floor Asian galleries are being renovated, Museum Conservator Ingrid Neuman will work to clean and repair structural and surface damage to the ancient sculpture. Your gift to the Museum for Buddha restoration provides for specialized cleaning and conservation supplies, trained art movers to transport the sculpture, and a new pedestal for the Buddha to sit on when it is returned to the newly renovated gallery in May 2014.