Atlanta’s Fernbank Museum Marks 20th Anniversary with Major Exhibition Exploring the Lasting Legacy of 13th-Century Emperor, Genghis Khan

The Largest Touring Collection of 13th-Century Mongolian ArtifactsMany Never Before ExhibitedDebut on October 5

ATLANTA—In 1215, he conquered the world; In 2012, he invades Atlanta. The special exhibition Genghis Khan will reign at Fernbank Museum of Natural History from October 5, 2012 - January 21, 2013, leading visitors on an unforgettable journey into Khan’s legendary empire and revealing the mark his legacy left on the modern world. Fernbank Museum, which opened in Atlanta on October 5, 1992, celebrates its 20th anniversary with this major exhibition that includes the largest touring collection of 13th-century Mongolian artifacts ever assembled.

More than 200 rare, authentic relics from the conqueror’s reign, empire and legacy offer visitors a glimpse of historic gold jewelry, ceramics, coins, armor, weaponry, silk robes, costumes, religious relics, a “murdered” mummy, and more. Many of the artifacts have never before been exhibited and will make their public debut at Fernbank Museum.

Through these compelling artifacts, engaging videos and immersive dioramas, the exhibition tells the story of Genghis Khan. This epic tale is filled with surprises, brutality, cunning, influence and intrigue. The exhibition is the first of its kind devoted to the amazing true story of his life, land, people and enduring legacy.

“As Fernbank Museum celebrates 20 years of bringing culture, nature, science and the Earth’s history to Atlanta, this exhibition is a perfect example of the many ways natural history is relevant in today’s world and the one-of-a-kind experiences Fernbank offers,” said Susan Neugent, Fernbank Museum’s President and CEO. “Genghis Khan is an important part of world history, yet his legacy has continued for hundreds of years in some unexpected ways. We still see his influence in many ways.”


Feared Conqueror or Revered Statesman?

The exhibition features the incredible stories of conquering nomadic tribes to expand his empire across Asia and beyond, while showcasing unexpected traits of the emperor. Genghis Khan captures the essence of his extensive empire and reveals his dual role as feared conqueror and revered statesman.

Although he ruled with an iron fist, he rewarded loyalty and merit, established the rule of law, and opened trade and exchange across Asia. His warriors reduced cities to ash, eliminated entire populations and incited fear throughout medieval Europe and Asia. Yet, he was an innovative leader who brought stability and unity to a vast and varied empire, encouraged education and meritocracy, and established a passport system to support trade along the Silk Road.

Early Life and A Warrior’s Rise to Power

Genghis Khan journeys into the heart of the Mongol Empire, where visitors are introduced to the boy the world would eventually know as Genghis Khan, but who was born as Temujin. Visitors experience the nomadic life of his harsh childhood as they explore a life-size ger to learn how Mongol nomads kept house and lived on the grassy steppe of central Asia.

Displays reveal how horsemanship gave Mongol warriors a tactical edge over their enemies. As skilled, mounted archers, they were able to shoot while facing backward or while hanging from one side of their saddle. Visitors can examine a wide array of equestrian objects, leather armor, chainmail, and bows and arrows, as well as a full-scale replica of a trebuchet, or catapult, and a giant siege crossbow that could reduce city walls to ruins.


A Land Larger than the Roman Empire

In just 25 years, Khan’s army conquered more lands and people than the Romans during their entire 400-year rule, creating the largest continuous land empire in history. At its height, the Mongol Empire spanned more than 11 million square miles across Eastern Europe and Asia—more than four times the size of the Roman Empire.

Visitors also explore the methods he used to manage his Empire and learn about many of his lasting influences, including the first widespread use of a messenger service, system of laws, paper money, passports, pants and more.

An Enduring Legacy Remains

Genghis Khan follows his successors through the legend of Kublai Khan, Genghis Khan’s grandson who laid the foundation of modern China. Visitors wander through a recreation of his summer palace, Xanadu, and learn about the journeys of the court courier, Marco Polo, along the Silk Road.

The exhibition reveals that Genghis Khan had many descendants beyond Kublai Khan. Modern chromosome testing estimates more than .5% of the modern worldwide male population, or 16 million living descendants, can be genetically linked to him.

“It’s a powerful experience to step back in time, see real artifacts from hundreds of years ago, and encounter history firsthand,” said Dr. Bobbi Hohmann, Fernbank curator and anthropologist. “Genghis Khan’s life and legacy encompass some of the world’s most important cultural history, including his modern influences.”

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Ticket and Visitor Information

Fernbank Museum of Natural History is located at 767 Clifton Road, NE in Atlanta. Genghis Khan is on view from October 5, 2012 through January 21, 2013 and is included with Museum admission: $17.50 for adults, $16.50 for students and seniors, $15.50 for children ages 3 to 12 (ages 2 and under are free), and free for museum members. Tickets and information are available at fernbankmuseum.org or 404.929.6300.


Genghis Khan is produced by Imagine Exhibitions, Inc.

Brandi Berry

Director of Public Relations

Fernbank Museum of Natural History

767 Clifton Road NE

Atlanta, GA 30307

brandi.berry@fernbankmuseum.org

404-929-6339

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2012, Fernbank Museum inspires life-long learning of natural history through dynamic programming to encourage a greater appreciation of our planet and its people.  Science education is at the heart of Fernbank’s mission, and the Museum remains dedicated to reconnecting people to nature, restoring a sense of wonder in the natural world, and stimulating an interest in science, the environment and human culture. 

Fernbank provides significant learning opportunities for all ages and cognitive levels, including families and students from vulnerable populations, through permanent and special exhibitions, IMAX® films, educational field trips, family programming opportunities, summer camps, lectures, research, and more.

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Fernbank inspires life-long learning of natural history through dynamic programming to encourage a greater appreciation of our planet and its people. Science education is at the heart of Fernbank’s mission, and the Museum remains dedicated to reconnecting people to nature, restoring a sense of wonder in the natural world, and stimulating an interest in science, the environment and human culture. Fernbank provides significant learning opportunities for all ages and cognitive levels, including families and students from vulnerable populations, through permanent and special exhibitions, IMAX® films, educational field trips, family programming opportunities, summer camps, lectures and more.

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Interesting Facts about Genghis Khan 1. Genghis Khan was not only a brilliant military general, but a social innovator who brought about the first widespread use of post offices, paper money, the pony express, and diplomatic immunity. 2. The empire of Genghis and his descendants covered most of Asia and Russia, extending from the gates of Vienna to the Sea of Japan. It was the largest contiguous land empire ever created. 3. When conquering a tribe or country, Genghis Khan would establish a meritocracy with tax benefits to clergy and scholars, as well as cultural and religious freedoms. 4. According to legend, Genghis Khan was born with a blood clot in his hand, a folkloric sign that he was destined to become a leader. 5. Genghis's early life was horrific. Before he was 10, Genghis Khan saw his father poisoned and his fiancee kidnapped. He and his family hid from enemies for years, and Genghis killed his half-brother for stealing food. 6. Genghis fathered children with five wives and more than 500 concubines. Only the four sons he had with his first wife were eligible to inherit his empire. 7. According to a study published by The American Journal of Human Genetics, Genghis Khan may be the most successful breeder in history. Close to 8 percent of the men in the region of the former Mongol Empire carry identical y-chromosomes to Genghis, suggesting that Genghis has more than 16 million living descendants. 8. Genghis Khan organized his armies precisely in the field, communicating between divisions as far as 100 miles apart in a day via pony express. The feigned retreat followed by ambush was a favorite technique of his generals, among the many of his strategies still taught at West Point and other military academies. 9. Genghis implemented a strict legal code called the “Yasa.” It not only governed such infractions as murder and adultery, but also environmental concerns; prohibiting citizens to bathe in streams and rivers and requiring them to pick up litter. 10. Genghis Khan’s legacy remains controversial. His warriors reduced cities to ash, eliminated entire populations, and incited fear throughout medieval Europe and Asia. Yet, he was an innovative leader who brought stability and unity to a vast and varied empire. He died in 1227 but is still revered as the founding spirit of the Mongolian nation.
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