World Monuments Fund Completes Conservation Works at Choijin Lama Temple, Mongolia
New York, NY — October 16, 2023 — World Monuments Fund (WMF) today announces the completion of the restoration of Choijin Lama Temple Museum in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The project focused on the part of the complex known as Yadam (or Hallowed Divinity) Temple, which was once a private prayer hall where the complex’s namesake would contemplate his secret mantra.
Built in 1908 at the behest of the eighth Javzandamba Khutagt, the spiritual leader of Mongolian Buddhism, the temple takes its name from the official state oracle, the Choijin Lama, who resided within the temple precinct and received his visions there. After communists took power in Mongolia, Choijin Lama Temple was one of a handful of religious sites in the country that was not shuttered or destroyed.
Today, the temple is an important surviving example of Chinese-style religious architecture in Mongolia and was included on the 2020 World Monuments Watch owing to the role it can play in the ongoing revival of Buddhism in the country. Following the creation of a conservation master plan in collaboration with the Arts Council of Mongolia (ACM), WMF organized a scientific advisory team to lend their expertise in support of the restoration of Yadam Temple, which today houses a rich and important collection of Buddhist art. WMF also developed local capacity-building activities, offering training to 70 people, including individuals and organizational staff responsible for cultural heritage preservation, conservation, and the maintenance of historic buildings in Mongolia. Funding for the project was provided by the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) and the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar.
At the completion ceremony—which commenced at 11:40 am, a time traditionally believed to be auspicious—attendees were treated to performances of throat singing, horse-head fiddle music, and speeches by representatives of the ACM, the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar, the Ministry of Culture, the Choijin Lama Temple Museum, and WMF. Following closing remarks, attendees were given a tour of Yadam Temple showcasing the restoration work. A photographic exhibition devoted to the restoration project is currently on display at the museum.
About World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund (WMF) is the leading independent organization devoted to safeguarding the world’s most treasured places to enrich people’s lives and build mutual understanding across cultures and communities. The organization is headquartered in New York City with offices and affiliates in Cambodia, India, Peru, Portugal, Spain, and the UK. Since 1965, our global team of experts has preserved the world's diverse cultural heritage using the highest international standards at more than 700 sites in 112 countries. Partnering with local communities, funders, and governments, WMF draws on heritage to address some of today’s most pressing challenges: climate change, underrepresentation, imbalanced tourism, and post-crisis recovery. With a commitment to the people who bring places to life, WMF embraces the potential of the past to create a more resilient and inclusive society.
Judith Walker, Vice President of Communications