Modern Mongolia: Reclaiming Genghis Khan

July 3, 2002 – December 8, 2002

National Museum of Natural History
10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

1st Floor, Special Exhibitions Gallery, Center (Hall 10) Floor Plan

Mongolian life from the beginning of the 20th century to today is reconstructed through 3 authentic gers (traditional Mongolian yurts or tents): under feudal (Manchu Dynasty during the early 20th century), Communist (during the 1960s), and today's democratic times. The legacy of Genghis Khan -- independence and the foundation for building a true democracy -- is woven throughout the exhibition. Mongolian costumes and artifacts -- including a replica of an 8-ft. deer stone monolith, regarded as a talisman by the Mongolian people -- complement the exhibit. 4 dioramas re-create 20th-century Mongolian life:

  • The Manchu Dynasty: The ger depicts a wealthy home of the early 20th century, with felt carpeting, a rustic bed, Chinese hearth, fully equipped kitchen, Tibetan Buddhist altar, and items associated with a herding livelihood.
  • Communist Period: The ger shows nomadic life in the 1960s and the effects of communism, including the change in clothing from silks to cotton and the absence of religious objects. A video explores the transition from communism to democracy.
  • Modern Period: The ger depicts Mongolians as they live today, with a mix of old Soviet and new international dress, newspapers, an English language study book, and a return of religious objects.
  • 21st-Century Urban Life: The final diorama depicts the interior of an urban apartment, where a TV plays interviews of an urban teenager, young herder, businessman, and pensioner as they describe their lives and speak of the future.

Introductory film discusses the democratic aspects of Genghis Khan's principles

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No photography permitted