Our Team

Picture: Ashish Neupane

Sumnima Udas

Executive Director

Sumnima is the Founder of the Lumbini Museum initiative. As a Nepali growing up in culturally abundant cities from Rome to Amman, Moscow to Yangon, Peshawar to New Delhi and Geneva to New York, Sumnima always felt her own millennia-old rich Buddhist/Hindu heritage was not being adequately presented and promoted on the world stage. Nepal has a unique and spiritually potent belief system which, as a Smithsonian curator once told her, had been unfairly removed from the history of Buddhism. It was time to change that. In 2016 she wrote a letter to the Government of Nepal, proposing that a state-of-the-art museum be built, not just in any place, but in the most sacred of sites—Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Buddha. And in September of 2018, the Government entrusted the Buddha Foundation, a Nepal based non-profit, with the right to create, design, curate, manage and run a world class museum in Lumbini for the next 35 years.

Prior to the Lumbini Museum, Sumnima was an award winning journalist and media personality based in New Delhi as CNN’s International Correspondent for South Asia, and Hong Kong and New York as a CNN Producer. Sumnima was awarded the ‘Journalist of the Year’ prize at the inaugural Women’s Empowerment (WE) Journalism Awards for her sensitive reporting on gender issues. She also received the Asian Television Award as a producer on CNN Talk Asia, the weekly interview show that explores the personalities behind newsmakers. Sumnima produced and directed a documentary, Lost Souls, on the illicit trafficking of art from Nepal, and holds a double BA in Broadcast Journalism and History of Art from Washington and Lee University and a MA in the History of Art from Oxford University.

Kris Yao

Chief Architect

One of Taiwan’s most highly regarded architects, Kris has received numerous accolades and awards over the 30 years of his practice, including the National Award for Arts and Architecture — the highest honor in cultural and art disciplines in Taiwan – and the prestigious Honorary Fellowship from the American Institute of Architects in 2014. His portfolio includes the Palace Museum, Southern Branch, Taipei, the Wuzhen Theatre in Zhejian, China, and the Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts.

While Kris’ works span an enormous array of building types: corporate/industrial, residential, cultural, educational, medical, retail, and transportation, he maintains a special passion for cultural and historically related projects. His designs are noted for the way in which they celebrate and spotlight the special spirit of a place.

Albert Paravi Wongchirachai

Chief Creative Director

A graduate of London’s School of Oriental and Asian Studies, Albert has been at the forefront of the creative scene in Thailand. He helped to co-found Thailand’s National Creative and Design Centre (TCDC), and his portfolio includes projects for the Museum Siam, Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum, and also IconSiam’s upcoming Museum of Heritage Treasures.

Winai Chairakpong & b | u | g studio

Exhibition Design

Winai received his Bachelor Degree of Architecture from Rangsit University, and his Master’s from the Illinois Institute of Technology and Columbia University. Winai co-founded blulg studio in 1999.

b | u | g studio is a multi-disciplinary Thai design studio based in Bangkok. It helped to pioneer Thailand’s exuberant exhibition design scene, and its award-winning work today spans architecture, interior and museum design, corporate branding, commercial advertising, and strategic branding.

Charles Sutyla

Exhibition and Facilities Planner

Charles is the Director of Cultural Solutions, based out of Hong Kong and Thailand. He was previously Managing Director of Lord Cultural Resources (1995-2006) and has worked on major museum projects throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Alex Shrestha

Site Architect

Alex Shrestha represents a new generation of architects and urban planners creating a positive impact across the Nepali landscape. With a strong conviction to achieving design excellence within the local context, he confidently confronts and challenges design principles, materials and technology limitations to produce beautiful, functional and sustainable architecture.

Cristeena Chitrakar​

Art & Acquisitions​

Cristeena is an Operations Manager at her family’s art foundation. Previously, she worked as a Digital Archivist at Freer & Sackler, Smithsonian Institute. She received her MA in Buddhist Art & Conservation from Courtauld Institute of Art.

Dominic Chua​

Research​

An educator and communications professional, Dominic is currently pursuing a course in Buddhist Studies at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Kathmandu. He received his Bachelors in English Language and Literature from the National University of Singapore, and has previously been active with a range of civil society causes in Singapore.

Astha Thapa​​

Development & Fundraising​

Astha is the current Chair of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, Nepal. Previously, she served as the Executive Director of Tewa (Nepal’s Women’s Fund). She studied Government and Anthropology at Harvard University.

Katherine Demsky

Development & Outreach​

Katherine holds a Master Degree of Medical Anthropology and a Bachelor of Science in Archaeology, minoring in Chinese Studies. Since 2013, Katherine has directed support for women’s education programs in Nepal through the USA-based nonprofit, Bridges Between, and led fundraising efforts for the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition since 2014.

Mahima Shrestha

Communications​​

Mahima handles PR, media relations and corporate communications for government, multilateral and non-profit organisations in a wide range of sectors including aviation, tourism, education, telecommunications and healthcare.