For those looking for something beyond the ordinary in Singapore, you might want to head to the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands. ArtScience has just finished hosting an emotionally stunning exhibition about the ancient Silk Road, one of the most famous trading routes in the history of human kind. The exhibition, titled Traveling the Silk Road: Ancient Pathways to the Modern World opened in February of 2011 and received critical acclaim.
Jan Shim @ The Dhow Interior
Organized by the American Museum of Natural History and appearing in Asia for the first time, this amazing historical exhibit covered the time period of 600-1200 AD when the Silk Road connected the most important trading cities in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. The exhibition filled about 1,500 square meters and consisted of historical, interactive, and informative pieces that helped to bring this important era of history to life.
One of the hallmarks of ArtScience exhibitions are the way they bring the past to life by including not only the sights and artifacts but also the sounds and even smells of the past to the present. The busy market cities of the Silk Road are long changed but visitors experienced them in Singapore for at the ArtScience Museum.
They saw the silk worms of Xi’an, the busy streets of Turfan, felt the feathers, fur, and leather of the market and smelled the exotic spices of the world. Interactive displays focused on paper making, glass blowing, and life in Samarkand and continued to Baghdad, once the center of the world and scholarship.
Silk Road Exhibition Entrance
Don’t worry though, the life size camel models didn’t spit but they wore authentic caravan gear and tack for visitors to touch and see in real life. The director of the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay, Tom Zaller, has striven to make his museum a place that resonates with the history of the globe, not just that of Singapore. When asked about the purpose of this exhibit, he said “Visitors from Singapore and around the world, young and old, will enjoy this highly interactive exhibition.
From silk-making, to the ancient crafts of papermaking and glassblowing, the universal themes of art and science are integral in the life and times of the people who lived in and travelled to these ancient cities. Equivalent to the ‘information highway’ of that time, the Silk Road was a significant factor in the transfer of knowledge in art, technology and commerce that led to the development of the world’s greatest civilizations.”
The point of the exhibition was to show that the Silk Road was not just a road but a highly integrated network of cities, stops, and trade which connected the entire known world at the time in ways that are comparable to the internet today. Rather than starting at one end and going to the other, instead it was a series of small stops by individuals that were connected by trade and the products of the era.
It was through the Silk Road that the innovations of China reached Europe and those of Europe reached the Far East. The route was more than 10,000 kilometers long and did more for integrating the world than anything before it had done.
Visitors found exhibits and items from many of the most important points along this collossal ancient highway. Traveling the Silk Road: Ancient Pathway to the Modern World ran from February 17 to March 27, 2011.
* Some photos posted courtesy of Marina Bay Sands