Saturday, September 29, 2007
Dinosaurs, Artists and Old Friends
We visited the Natural History Museum of Mongolia the other day. My Mongolian father, Zorigtbaatar, is the Director of this museum. Although they have a very small budget at the moment, Zorigo has done a lot of work to improve the exhibits at the oldest public museum in the country. It was opened in 1924 as the “National Museum” and currently houses displays of geology, geography, flora and fauna, anthropology and, most exciting of all, paleontology.
The picture above is me and John in front of the most famous Mongolian dinosaur fossil, that of a tarbosaurus. Another famous exhibit is of two fighting dinosaurs, and there are lots of fossils of dinosaur nest eggs at the museum. One of the reasons I’m glad that someone as honorable and upstanding as Zorigo is the director is because Mongolia (specifically the Gobi Desert) is an important site for dinosaur fossils and it’s really crucial that these paleontology treasures are catalogued, protected, and (except for traveling museum exhibitions), kept in Mongolia.
Other than our visit to the museum, highlights of the past couple of days include visiting with our former Peace Corps friend Ally and her two adorable sons Chaandmon and Sky (her husband/our friend Layton was in the Gobi, but we hope to see him soon too!) and eating take-out (i.e., delivered) pizza. For those of you who were in Peace Corps in the mid 1990s, you can appreciate what an amazing phenomenon this is, right?!
We also went to the Union of Mongolian Artists building, where approximately 100 painters, sculptors, fiber artists, etc. have their studios. We walked around and chatted with a bunch of artists there. One of the highlights was walking past a room where two men were welding an enormous iron horse. We also met a 66-year old painter named Gaadan, who is pictured below. (Look closely and you'll see the Mona Lisa in the background- this photo is from Gaadan's trip to Paris. He has exhibited all over the world.) When Gaadan learned that John is from the San Francisco Bay Area, he excitedly mentioned the Asia Museum. He’s befriended a couple of people affiliated with the museum and hopes to make it there one day.
Another artist we met is named Bayarbaatar, and one of the paintings we saw yesterday was of four famous Mongolian artists. Here’s a photo of it (it’s entitled “Mongolian Artists”).
All this in addition to beginning my research, of course!