LANZHOU, March 6 (Xinhua) -- China will establish a national protection center for ancient murals in June in the northwestern province of Gansu to improve the protection for the heritage, a researcher said Friday.
A total of 34 million yuan (about 4.9 million U.S. dollars) will be poured into the project based at Dunhuang Academy, an institute specializing in the protection of grottoes and the restoration of murals and cultural relics, said Wang Xudong, the academy's deputy chief.
The investment will come from the Ministry of Science and Technology, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, the Gansu provincial government and the academy.
Dunhuang, a booming town on the ancient Silk Road, is home to more than 800 grottoes that are at least 1,600 years old. The Mogao Grottoes, known as the Thousand Buddha Caves, were added to the World Heritage List in 1987. Altogether 735 caves have been found and frescos on the inside walls cover an area of 45,000 square meters.
China boasts a large number of ancient murals, as represented by the Mogao Grottoes frescos, but many of them have suffered damages due to natural erosion, human activities and lack of systematic protection, Wang said.
The center will focus on developing technologies and methods and training special personnel for protection of cultural heritage, according to the researcher.
With some 80 staff, the center will cooperate with other domestic research institutes such as Lanzhou University and Zhejiang University in the research.