Runa Khan

2006 Associate Laureate, Cultural Heritage
Bangladesh, Born 1958

Project Goal

Develop a "living museum" of traditional boats to preserve this national craft

Location: Bangladesh

Working tirelessly to improve underprivileged communities in her native Bangladesh, as well as Pakistan, Runa Khan co-founded Friendship International, an NGO that helps more than 50,000 people a month.

Khan’s project to revive Bangladesh’s 3,000-year-old boat-building heritage and set up a “living museum”, for which she won a Rolex Award in 2006, is part of Friendship’s Cultural Preservation programme and grew out of her passion to safeguard the boatbuilding tradition and the skills of the craftsmen whose art was disappearing.

In 1999, she commissioned master carpenters to build hundreds of scale models, reproducing dozens of different types of boats. And, since 2004, these craftsmen have been employed at the Living Museum of Traditional Country Boats of Bengal, currently housed at a temporary location. Over the years, major exhibitions, including two full-size craft and numerous replicas, have been held in France, Luxembourg and the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.

Other 2006 Associate Laureates