Encounter the outstanding beauty of Buddhist manuscripts and works of art in the largest exhibition of its kind ever held at the British Library.

How did Buddhism grow from its beginnings in 6th-century India to having over 500 million international followers today? How did the life of the Buddha unfold, and what inspires Buddhist practice?

The exhibition presents rare treasures from the library’s collection, including colourful scrolls, artefacts decorated with great detail and lavishly illuminated books spanning 2,000 years and 20 countries. It includes a natural soundscape and handmade artefacts in a setting inspired by a Buddhist temple.

The life of the Buddha and his previous incarnations is traced through objects including sacred texts written on tree bark, palm leaves and gold plates, and exquisite silk scrolls of major Sutras. The exhibition also shows how Buddhism was pivotal in developing writing and printing techniques to transmit ideas and stories across Asia.

Contemporary art from Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan and ritual objects used in contemplative practice provide a window into everyday life in Buddhist communities in the 21st century. Visitors can explore current customs and beliefs, gain insight into meditation, and experience the feeling of stepping into a monastic library.

Books & manuscriptsDecorative artsContemporary artAncient & classical art


British Library

96 Euston Road, London, Greater London, NW1 2DB

01937 546546

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Opening times

Main building

Mon – Thu, 9.30am – 8pm

Fri, 9.30am –​6pm (Sat until 5pm)

​Sun, 11am-5pm

Treasures Gallery and PACCAR exhibitions

Tue –Thu, 9.30am-8pm, Mon & Fri until 6pm, Sat until 5pm, Sun 11am – 5pm

Free to all

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