Dunhuang Research Academy (DHRA) is a national comprehensive institution responsible for the conservation, management and research of the Mogao Grottoes (a world cultural heritage site at Dunhuang), the Yulin Grottoes (a nationally protected key cultural heritage site at Guazhou), and the Western Thousand-Buddha Grottoes at Dunhuang.
In 1943, the Dunhuang Art Institute, the present-day Dunhuang Research Academy (DHRA), was established by the Chinese government. Since then, the DHRA has carried out many large projects with the accumulated effort of several generations; some of them done in collaboration with other local or oversea institutions.
The Chinese scholars started their studies with the founding of two official organizations, the Northwest Art and Relics Investigation Team and the Northwest Science Investigation Team. They went to the caves numerous times between the late 20s and the early 40s of the 20th century. Detailed records, photographs, copies of murals and measurements were documented. The world-renowned artist, Zhang Daqian, made many of famous copies of the murals during this time.
As well as the historical and cultural studies, other major works are also in progress. These include conservation to restore and consolidate the cliff surface, the caves, the statues and the murals; and digitization which is to digitize the video and photographs of the caves and the relics inside, and to create multi-media virtual tour presentations for the visitors. The presentations, along with visits to the caves, will allow visitors to see more of the Dunhuang art in greater detail and help conserve the treasures inside the caves.
The cave art in Dunhuang and manuscripts found in the Library Cave provide the world with rich resources for studying religion, history, geography, politics, economics, art, literature, technology, folk customs, costumes, and astronomy of China and Central Asia. It became a fashionable topic called Dunhuang Studies.