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Silk Road: Exhibition on the greatest trade route of ancient times on view in Los Angeles
Dr. Mark Norell, Curator with the American Museum of Natural History, gives an introduction during a press preview of the exhibition "Travelling the Silk Road: Ancient Pathway to the Modern World" at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, California on December18, 2013. The exhibition, which opens from December 22, 2013 to April 13, 2014, brings to life the most celebrated trade route in human history through evocative sights, sounds and objects, including fun and intriguiging interactive displays. AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. Brown.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Wrapping up a year of celebratory events and programs marking the centennial in 2013 of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the completely transformed Museum unveiled a 7,500-­‐square-­‐foot temporary exhibits gallery, giving visitors an opportunity to experience Traveling the Silk Road: Ancient Pathway to the Modern World for the first time on the West Coast. Traveling the Silk Road opened at the NHM on December 22, 2013, bringing to life the most celebrated trade route in human history through evocative sights, sounds, objects, fun and intriguing interactive displays.

Named for the treasured fabric that was traded across the known world, the Silk Road stretched from eastern China through the cities of Central Asia to the Middle East. More than a conduit for material goods, the Silk Road also carried scientific knowledge, technological advances, folklore, art, music, and religious beliefs through contact among peoples and cultures. Traveling the Silk Road transports visitors to ancient cities through immersive re-­‐creations of settings that feature life-­‐size models, engaging videos and hands-­‐on activities that tell the story of the peoples and cultures of the route’s golden age, from AD 600 to 1200, and the impact of their interaction on the world in the centuries that followed. Bringing new insight to modern notions of globalization and multiculturalism, this exciting exhibition explores a time when the information superhighway was a network of land routes that stretched 4,600 miles across blazing desert sands and snowy mountain passes.

“There can be no more thrilling way to inaugurate our renovated gallery for temporary exhibitions than to invite visitors to glimpse the spectacular sights of the great ancient civilizations of Asia and the Middle East, to smell the spices, hear stories and music and marvel at the production and pathways of the world’s first great luxury cloth,” states Dr. Jane Pisano, President and Director of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. “NHM has transformed our visitor experience this year with the opening of our outdoor Nature Gardens, indoor Nature Lab and new permanent exhibition hall Becoming Los Angeles. Traveling the Silk Road is the ideal temporary exhibition to complement these new visitor experiences which focus on the global nature and culture found locally in L.A. With Traveling the Silk Road, we will continue to inspire wonder and discovery, looking out at the planet in a broader more global way.”

Organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Traveling
the Silk Road been adapted for NHM’s temporary exhibition gallery. Although the exhibit has been seen in Asia and in Rome, Los Angeles is it’s first U.S. venue since it originated in New York.

Traveling the Silk Road’s seven sections include an introductory area complete with three life-­‐size camel models decked out in full caravan regalia and loaded with trade goods; a section highlighting Xi’an, China’s Tang Dynasty capital, that features a display of live silkworms and a massive replica of a Tang-­‐era loom from the China National Silk Museum in Hangzhou; and a night market set in the desert oasis city of Turfan. A component devoted to the city of Samarkand, a major center for long-­‐distance caravan merchants located in what is now Uzbekistan, focuses on the transfer of cultural stories and beliefs across the Silk Road is followed by Baghdad, which showcases the city’s role as a destination for intellectuals and a hub for scientific studies of geometry, engineering, and astronomy. The exhibition concludes with the transition from overland trade routes to maritime routes in the ninth and tenth centuries, where visitors walk through a 41-­‐foot long portion of a full-­‐sized model of an Arab dhow loaded with cargo of ceramics and elaborate metalwork, and an epilogue that invites visitors to re-­‐think today’s global routes of exchange through the lens of the Silk Road.

“When we think of the Silk Road, we think mostly of silk,” explains AMNH lead curator Mark Norell. “But paper, which helped spread literacy and Islam throughout the world, was an invention from China. Buddhism, which came out of India, went north. No single person traveled the entire length of the Silk Road, but trade goods did, and, more importantly, so did ideas.”

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December 23, 2013

Silk Road: Exhibition on the greatest trade route of ancient times on view in Los Angeles

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