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Exhibition On The Greatest Trade Route of Ancient Times

Opens November 14, 2009 and Remains on View Until August 15, 2010


New York, September 14, 2009—The American Museum of Natural History today announced a major new exhibition,Traveling the Silk Road: Ancient Pathway to the Modern World, which opens November 14, 2009 and remains on view through August 15, 2010, before traveling to other venues nationally and internationally.This intriguing exhibition brings to life one of the greatest trading routes in human history, showcasing the goods, cultures, and technologies from four representative cities:Xi’an, China’s Tang Dynasty capital;Turfan, a verdant oasis and trading outpost;Samarkand, home of prosperous merchants who thrived on the caravan trade; andBaghdad, a fertile hub of commerce and scholarship that became the intellectual center of the era.

The exhibition is curated by Mark Norell, Chairman and Curator-in-Charge of the Division of Paleontology at the Museum, with guest co-curator William Honeychurch, an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology atYaleUniversity, and consultant Denise Leidy, curator of the Department of Asian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Presenting Sponsor ofTraveling the Silk RoadisMetLife Foundation.

Additional support has been provided by Mary and David Solomon.

The Silk Road Project Residency is generously supported by Rosalind P. Walter.

Traveling the Silk Road: Ancient Pathway to the Modern Worldis organized by theAmericanMuseumof Natural History,New York(, in collaboration with Azienda Speciale Palaexpo,Roma,Italyand Codice. Idee per la cultura srl, Torino, Italy; the National Museum of Australia, Canberra, Australia and Art Exhibitions Australia; and the National Museum of Natural Science, Taichung, Taiwan and United Daily News, Taipei, Taiwan.

“For centuries, the Silk Road was a vast and busy network bridging Asia and the Mediterranean region, where people met, transported goods, and conducted trade, and in the process shared culture, religion, and technology,” said Ellen V. Futter, President of theAmericanMuseumof Natural History. “In this exhibition, we invite the public to take a journey with us along this critical cultural pathway, which might be thought of as the internet of the ancient world. Visitors will see spectacular sights, smell the spices, marvel at the silk, and hear the stories and music of the great ancient civilizations of Asia and theMiddle East.”

Visitors will embark on an unparalleled journey, exploring commerce, communication, and cultural exchange from the far reaches ofChinathrough the cities and empires of Central andWest Asiafrom A.D. 600 to 1200. Children will become world travelers as well, collecting special stamps inSilk Road“passports” issued to them at the exhibition entrance, smelling real spices in the spice market, observing live silkworms, and enjoying live musical performances.

On Sunday afternoons, visitors will be treated tolive performances brought together by the Silk Road Project,a not-for-profit artistic, cultural and educational organization founded in 1998 by cellist Yo-Yo Ma that takes inspiration from the historicSilk Roadtrading route as a modern metaphor for multicultural and interdisciplinary exchange.

Visitors will watchlive silkworms spinning cocoonsin the section devoted toXi’an; wander through areplica of the desert markets of Turfan, complete with the sights, sounds, and smells of exotic spices, luxury goods, and precious raw materials;meet a life-sized camel model inSamarkandand explore theancient skills of papermaking and metalwork. InBaghdad, visitors willtrack the “stars”using a working model of an Arab astrolabe and discover the achievements of Islamic sciences and engineering.

Throughout the exhibition, hands-on activ
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