The World Of Your Senses Exhibition


The World Of Your Senses Exhibition shares parallel perspectives from Buddhism and western science on sensory perception. The exhibit script, content, and imagery were envisioned by a dedicated and curiosity-filled group of thirty Tibetan Buddhist monks from Bon, Sakya, Gaden, Drepung, and Sera monasteries.

This group of scholars has become growingly engaged with western science over the last several years, and now, they are sharing their unique perspectives as learners, philosophers, and educators.

The World Of Your Senses Exhibition explores the questions:

How do we see?
How does hearing work?
How does the nose smell?
How does taste work?
How do we touch?
In addition, the Buddhist perspective includes a sixth sense – mind consciousness!

The creation of the exhibit was supported through a unique collaboration between the Libray of Tibean Works & Archives (LTWA), the Sager Family Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

Work on the exhibition began in December of 2009 at Drepung Monastery in South India, during a 2-week meeting of the Sager Science Leadership Institute. Director Stephanie Norby from the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies (SCEMS) worked with the monks to establish the elements of the exhibition design and guided each of the 6 leadership groups to develop preliminary scripts in preparation for an exhibit development workshop. In May 2010, Scott Schmidt (Senior Fabrications Supervisor) from the Office of Exhibit Central, Smithsonian Institution, worked with the monastics to finalize the layout and develop preliminary imagery for the exhibit panels.

At both of these workshops, teachers from the Exploratorium in San Francisco supported the development of the inquiry-based teaching stations. For each of the five senses, teaching stations hosted by the monks (see schedule) will share hands-on investigations into sensory perception. Linda Shore (Director of the Teacher Institute), David Barker (Senior Designer), and Lori Lambertson (New Teacher Mentor, Teacher Institute) shared numerous interactive activities on sensory perception, and teaching models for using the activities in the sharing of science.

After the institute in May 2010, the preliminary designs were sent to designers Darren Milligan and Tracie Spinale (SCEMS), to further develop the exhibit script and graphic layout. Dr. David Presti (UC Berkeley) and Geshe Lhakdor (Director, LTWA) provided ongoing editorial resources for the science and Buddhist content, respectively. Dr. Bryce Johnson, and  Science Department staffs at LTWA, managed the development of the exhibiton.

The final designs were then interpreted and hand painted by thanka painters at LTWA. The master tailor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Phuntsok Tsering  lead the framing of the completed paintings.

The World of Your Senses Exhibition is the result of many years of work growing out of directives from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his long history engaging Western scientist in dialogue.