Since its establishment in 1958, the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology has sponsored and promoted research on the religion, history, language, art and culture of the people of the Tibetan cultural area which includes Sikkim. The NIT library holds one of the largest collections of Tibetan works in the world outside Tibet and a museum of Tibetan iconography and religious art. It has published the Bulletin of Tibetology since 1964 and numerous books over the years.
The site on which the institute was established was donated by the late Chogyal (king) of Sikkim Sir Tashi Namgyal. The foundation stone of the institute was laid by the 14th Dalai Lama on the 10th of February 1957 and the institute was declared open by the late Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on the 1st of October 1958. The institute’s main building is an imposing monument and a splendid example of Sikkimese architecture.
In the summer of 2002, the NIT’s new director, Mr Tashi Densapa, undertook to expand the Institute, restructure its research wing and open its doors to international collaboration. This is being done through the creation of new research and fellowship programs, the holding of lecture series, seminars and international conferences, the publication of the Bulletin of Tibetology, monographs and conference proceedings, and through collaboration with foreign scholars. The institute has become a dynamic research centre in the Eastern Himalayas actively promoting Buddhist and Tibetan Studies, including its sub-field of Sikkim Studies. In order to help him achieve this, Mr Densapa appointed Tashi Tsering (Amnye Machen Institute, Dharamsala) as part-time Consultant and a number of new academic staffs over the years (see staff list).
The NIT has undergone a general expansion of its infrastructure and facilities. The construction of a new building housing a conference hall, a library, study rooms, studios and an administrative wing was completed and inaugurated by H.E. Shri Balmiki Prasad Singh Governor of Sikkim on 25 September 2008 as part of the Institute Golden Jubilee Celebrations.