The British Museum is currently displaying a virtual pilgrimage of India’s Great Shrine of Amaravati as a part of its South Asia season. This will provide the visitors with a reimagining of the shrine of Amaravati and its two-sided relief. The museum has used an interactive high-resolution display for offering the visitors an insight to the ancient shrine of Amaravati.
The museum has collaborated with Google’s Creative Lab in Sydney for developing this free display, which enables linking smartphones for interacting with the history of the shrine and the relief carving. This exhibition presented at the British Museum is the first of any kind to use an interactive display that is controllable via smartphones using a WiFi link. With these, users can interact with the images of the shrines and the animated figures for accessing additional information about the carving and its history.
Using the new interactive display technology, many of the concerns of visitors on British Museum guided tour programs such as the costs of using additional apps are alleviated. The museum also offers the visitors without any phones or tablets with tethered handsets that will enable them to interact with the Amaravati shrine exhibit.
Featured in the display are three people who have existed during the time of the carving of the inscriptions for the shrine. They are portrayed by actors and include a woman who presented the carved railing that is situated around the shrine, a Buddhist monk and his sister, and a perfume maker.
The Great Shrine of Amaravati is located in the present state of Andhra Pradesh in India and was founded around 200 BC. It was one of the largest and most prominent shrines of Buddhism in the world. The limestone relief from the shrine offers a glimpse into the true history of the shrine and is said to be offered by a female disciple of the monk Vathisara.
Imma Ramos, curator of British Museum’s South Asia collections, said, “The two sides of the stone also show us a fascinating development over the centuries in the portrayal of the Buddha, from a being whose power and authority can only be shown through a symbolic absence, to a real human figure depicted at the heart of the shrine.”
The museum will host this virtual pilgrimage of India’s Great Shrine of Amaravati until October 08, 2017. Moreover, the actual carved slab will be put on display permanently at the newly built Asahi Shimbun Indian gallery from November 2017. Currently, the British Museum contains more than 120 carvings excavated from the site of the shrine and remains one of the largest collections of artifacts outside India.