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Visitors' center will help conserve Mogao Grottoes

A VISITORS' center costing 260 million yuan (US$38.1 million) will be built at China's ancient Mogao Grottoes to help conserve statues and frescos in the historic caves in Dunhuang, northwestern China's Gansu Province.

Dunhuang Academy, the research and conservation body that cares for the 1,000-year-old grottoes, said the center will replicate the experience of visiting the Buddhist temples and use digital media to create a virtual tour, China News Service reported today.

That will cut the time visitors need to spend touring the actual grottoes, the academy said.

Up to 5,300 visitors a day during the recent National Day holiday have helped contribute to changes in the caves' microclimate, leading to serious deterioration of some murals and posing conservation challenges.

Ranked as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site in 1987, Mogao Grottoes opened part of the caves to the public in 1979. There are altogether 735 grottoes, 492 temples, more than 2,000 colored statues, and 45,000 square meters of frescos

After the visitors' center opens, the academy hopes the number of tourists will be about 6,000 a day. Most tour the grottoes in groups, said the academy.


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