Society of Friends of the Kern Institute

The Society of Friends of the Kern Institute (Vereniging Vrienden van het Instituut Kern or VVIK) supports and promotes the study of South Asia, in particular India and Tibet. The society organises lectures and excursions, provides subsidies for study trips, supports the expansion and public use of the VVIK library collections, and brings out a Newsletter and other publications. She also supports, via de ‘Dr. de Cock-fundatie’, the website ‘Dutch Studies on South Asia, Tibet and classical Southeast Asia’. The VVIK acts in close cooperation with the South Asian and Tibetan Studies program of the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS).


The VVIK was founded in 1924 with prof. J.Ph. Vogel as its chairman. One of the main goals was to establish a research institute for the archaeology and art history of South and Southeast Asia at Leiden University. This institute was named after Hendrik Kern ‒ the first Leiden professor of Sanskrit ‒ and opened its doors on 4 April 1925.


In the course of the 20th century the Kern Institute developed into an establishment for the study of India and Tibet in the broadest sense. It acted in close cooperation with Leiden University. In 1960 this cooperation resulted in an agreement with the University according to which the VVIK delegated the preservation of its collections to the university. Although in the 1980s all separate university institutes were abolished, the name ‘Kern Institute’ has remained. At present, the Kern Institute is the Dutch national centre of expertise on South Asia and the Himalayas, including India, Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.


The VVIK is separate from the South and Southeast Asian Studies program of Leiden University. At present the VVIK has about 100 members, inside and outside academia. The members of the VVIK are deeply involved in the study of India and Tibet.