Located at the entrance of the Sacred Garden Area of Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Historical Buddha and a UNESCO World Heritage Property, the Lumbini Museum will be a true gem when it launches in early 2022. As the world’s only contemporary museum of the Buddha and his Birthplace, the Museum will be the anchor that sets the stage and enhances a visitor’s experience of Nepal’s most sacred site. What happened here, some 2,600 years ago, shifted the consciousness of millions, and continues to resound with a universal clarity that impacts people in the most fundamental aspects of their life.
While the broad outlines of Siddhartha’s life are familiar to all Buddhists, there are many forgotten stories about Siddhartha’s youth and his return visits to Kapilavastu in later years, hidden within the various Buddhist traditions. Contemporary scholarship is increasingly coming to recognise how these precious narratives shaped and nourished the faithful lives of Buddhist communities of the past.
With your help, the Lumbini Museum will bring to life these sacred stories that provide a glimpse into the wealth and profundity of Buddhist teaching.
There are few places in the world as sacred and as widely revered as Lumbini. The Birthplace of the Historical Buddha and UNESCO World Heritage Property, the Sacred Garden of Lumbini is Nepal’s most iconic archaeological, historical, cultural and spiritual site. For millennia, travellers and pilgrims have been paying homage as the Buddha himself directed his followers “to visit… with faith, curiosity and devotion, Lumbini the place where I [he] was born.”
Today more than 1.5 million people visit Lumbini every year; and these numbers are expected to rise exponentially after the opening of the Gautam Buddha International Airport in 2021. The Government of Nepal seeks to better serve the increase in tourism while preserving, protecting and promoting its rich cultural heritage sites. It is in this context that, for the first time, a state-of-the-art institution—The Lumbini Museum—is being created inside the Sacred Garden Area.
In the early 1970s, Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Kenzo Tange had just completed his iconic designs of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Tokyo Olympic Park when he was commissioned by a 15-nation International Committee at the United Nations to prepare a Masterplan for Lumbini.
Tange had a special vision for Lumbini. He envisioned the site as a Universal Centre for Peace where world leaders could come to imagine and create a world free of suffering and violence. His masterplan thus infuses the 3-square mile area of the Sacred Garden with the spirit of the Buddha’s universal message of openness and peace.
Tange wanted the pilgrim’s personal journey in Lumbini to be an expression of the Buddha’s own journey: beginning from the real world (Hotels and Guesthouses), we travel to a place of learning and wisdom (Museum and Library), then through the monastic zones with temples built by different nations, and finally reach the inner sanctum at Maya Devi Temple, which represents enlightenment.
As such, Tange positioned the Lumbini Museum and the Lumbini International Research Institute at the starting point of the pilgrim’s journey.
In Phase 1, the Museum is being restored and re-imagined for a contemporary experience which includes the construction of an additional extension for temporary galleries, an orientation room, cafe, gift shop and a sculpture garden with meditation and exhibition areas.
In Phase 2, a new annex will be built adjacent to the existing Tange structure. The expanded Museum space will narrate an integrated story of the significance of the Buddha’s early years and the evolution of Buddhism.