The special exhibition Genghis Khan invades Atlanta from October 5, 2012 – January 21, 2013, taking visitors on an unforgettable journey into Khan’s legendary empire and revealing the mark his legacy left on the modern world. Fernbank Museum of Natural History, 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—perhaps even his status as an “i-Khan” of global innovation.
“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 Khancaptures 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.”
Ticket and Visitor Information
Fernbank Museum of Natural History is located at 767 Clifton Road, NE in Atlanta. Genghis Khanis 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.
About Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Atlanta’s Fernbank Museum of Natural History inspires discovery and exploration of the earth’s history, the natural world and human culture with immersive programming and unmatched experiences. Through exhibitions, programs and IMAX® films, visitors come face to face with the world’s largest dinosaurs, explore the development of life on Earth, journey through the landscapes of present-day Georgia, connect with cultures from around the world, and engage in learning through a variety of hands-on programs, including Family Days, Summer Camps, lectures, field trips and more.
Fernbank has received several awards for its innovative new children’s exhibition, Fernbank NatureQuest, and is accredited by the American Association of Museums, a distinction earned by less than five percent of museums in the United States.