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First launched in 1998 the International Dunhuang Programme (IDP) website has been a vital resource for accessing materials and digital resources pertaining to the Eastern Silk Roads.

The website hosts images and metadata from institutions around the world in its relational database, along with supplementary information like learning modules and newsletter archives that help widen access to these materials. Because these collections are dispersed across multiple international sites, including the British Library, the IDP partners and other collaborating institutions, the website has acted as a central hub of information that broadens access to and deepens understandings of these important materials.

In 2005 the IDP website was redeveloped using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, with each partner site hosting and maintaining their own version of the IDP website that accessed a synchronised database. Another refresh came in 2012, but as the technological landscape evolved over the following decades it became clear that additional work needed to be done on the search capabilities and design of the website to better support users across the globe.

The Polonsky Foundation pledged to support the redevelopment of the IDP website in 2022, and the British Library organised an EU Open Tender to select an external supplier to take forward this work. Over the next two years, the British Library redevelopment team and external suppliers worked to improve the website’s navigation and design, provide additional functionality through tools such as an enhanced search and more robust viewer capabilities, and develop new and updated public learning resources. Some additional features include bespoke development on an IIIF viewer, custom search equivalencies in the collection database, and easy-to-use online exhibitions.

The new website launched in 2024, in time to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the International Dunhuang Programme. We remain grateful for The Polonsky Foundation’s support of the redevelopment of the IDP website, which supports increased access to digital images, metadata and learning resources relating to collections from Dunhuang and the Eastern Silk Roads.

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The logo of the Polonsky Foundation.