Your journey begins 1,000 years ago in the ancient Chinese capital city of Xi’an as you prepare to journey over 4,600 miles. In the year that it takes you to travel “The Silk Road” you will have crossed vast expanses of desert, forded or ferried across mighty rivers and made your way through high mountain passes. Along the way you will visit countless outposts and oasis as well as three other major cities on the road where you will barter and trade for an even wider array of goods. Your next stop out of Xi’an is Turfan which is a huge oasis and trading post (also in China) where the weary traveler can rest in comfort. The next center of civilization is Samarkand which is in Eastern Persia and is where east meets west and prosperous merchants thrive on the caravan trade and lastly you travel to the city of Baghdad in Iraq where commerce and scholarship flourish.
Through October 5, 2014, The Cleveland Museum of Natural History presents “The Silk Road” which is an interactive exhibit that tells of the various routes that traders took during its golden age (AD 600 to 1200), the goods that traveled on this trade route and the resulting expansion of science and religion that traveled as well.
As you make your way through the exhibit, you will find that the Silk Road was not just a route for trade goods, it was also the information super highway of its time that carried scientific knowledge, technical advances, folklore, art, history and religious ideas from Korea and Japan through China and Persia to Iraq.
At the start of the exhibit you are nose to nose with three life-size camel models that are decked out in full caravan regalia and loaded to the hilt with trade goods and who stand in front of a 120 foot mural depicting the endless sweep of sandy desert. As you travel from one center of civilization to another you are invited to get your “passport” stamped at various stations.
Some of the high points along the way:
• Watch a video about how silkworm cocoons are made into silk thread
• See live silkworms
• Learn of the history of the silk industry
• Look at a huge 17 foot long and 9.5 feet high replica of a Tang era loom
• Listen to recordings of traditional Chinese instruments singly and as a group while seeing the instruments themselves on display
• Stroll through a full scale recreation of a night market in Turfan complete with the sights, smells and sounds of the real thing while learning what items were worth carrying thousands of mile; such as cloth (silk and otherwise), rare and exotic spices and herbs, fresh and dried fruits and rare and valuable gems, feathers and skins.
• Take home a recipe for spiced dates that was popular during that time
• Listen and watch ancient stories as they come alive on a huge computer “book”
• Learn about the history of paper making and the effect it had
• Have an interactive experience with a tabletop map that charts different routes while pointing out various geographical features such as deserts, rivers and mountains as well as showing the trade route influence on religions, languages, technology and art.
• See how glass was manufactured and shipped
• Determine the hour by marking the position of projected “stars” using an ancient Islamic astrolabe.
• View a cutaway of a 41 foot long replica of the prow of an Arabian sailing ship known as a dhow and view some of the delicate cargo packed in hay and stored in large clay jars.
With so much to read, interact with and experience in this exhibit it is easy to spend two or three hours as you browse the marketplace or learn about the history of paper and glass manufacturing.
Admission to “Traveling the Silk Road” is included with your museum admission (and free to museum members). Museum admission fees are $12.00 for adults; $10.00 for children age 3-18, college students with valid ID and seniors over age 60; free for children 2 and under. The Shafran Planetarium shows are $4.00 with general admission.
“Traveling the Silk Road” is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York and is collaborated with the ArtScience Museum of Singapore, Azienda Speciale Palaexpo of Rome, Italy and Codice. Also participating in the tour is Idee perla cultura srl, Torino, Italy, the National Museum of Australia, Canberra, Australia and Art Exhibitions Australia, the National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung, Taiwan and the Untied Daily News of Taipei, Taiwan.
In Cleveland, the exhibit sponsors are TCP Lighting, with cultural supporters and partners Jones Day, Anne & Don Palmer, RAV Financial, Margaret W. Wong & Associates Co, LPA, Anthony Y. Yen, Cleveland Asian Festival, ClevelandPeople.Com, Confucius Institute at CSU, Discount Drug Mart, Federation of India Community Associations of Northeast Ohio, Global Cleveland, InterContinental Hotels Cleveland and OCA Cleveland Chapter. Local promotional sponsors are Cleveland Magazine, 89.7 WKSU and ideastream WVIZ-WCPN-WCLV.
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is located at 1 Wade Oval Drive in University Circle, 15 minutes east of downtown Cleveland. www.cmnh.org
About the Cleveland Museum of Natural History
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, incorporated in 1920, has inspired a passion for nature and science among generations of people in Northeast Ohio and around the world. With outstanding collections, research in 10 natural science disciplines, educational programs and exhibits, the Museum is a resource for scientists and students from kindergarten to university. The Museum actively conserves biological diversity through the protection of more than 6, 000 acres of natural areas. It promotes health education with local programs and distance learning that extends across the globe. Its GreenCityBlue Lake Institute is a center of thought and practice for the design of green and sustainable cities.