Winter in Missouri can draw you outdoors for fun on brisk sunny days or drive you indoors when the weather turns unpleasant. Those are the perfect days to explore new worlds, new art and new people at exhibits around the state.
If the name Genghis Khan brings to mind a bloodthirsty barbarian, plundering and raping his way to world domination – the Kansas City Union Station exhibit of "Genghis Khan: Bringing the Legend to Life" is an absolute don't-miss.
This world-class exhibition is an eye-opener, tackling misperceptions about the first Great Khan and Mongolian culture by introducing visitors to the truth behind the myth.
Let's play a game of "Three Truths and a Lie" and see how your idea of Genghis Khan measures up to the man:
1) He is often called the Great Civilizer.
2) He created the first passport.
3) He was a Buddhist who spread his religion in conquered lands.
4) He's the reason we have violins and forks.
There is no doubt Genghis Khan (and the name is actually pronounced with a soft g – jeng-iss) was a great warlord who united the many tribes of his area before moving west. But that reputation barely scratches the surface of the man or his impact on the world, even today. For example, the lie among the truths is that he spread Buddhism; he actually instilled religious freedom throughout his lands.
As you move throughout the exhibit, join Temujin (his birth name) through his difficult youth, his dramatic accomplishments, his mysterious death and his lasting legacy. Of course, you'll find a variety of weapons of war, including the recurve bow that his horsemen used so effectively. But there is also beautiful traditional clothing, musical instruments, pottery and writings. More than 200 artifacts from 13th century Mongolia – almost all from private collections – are on display.
Be sure to schedule your visit to coincide with the performances of traditional Mongolian music, dance and art. The music is expressive and moving, and the art is breathtaking.
You are sure to be dazzled by the combination of wisdom, culture and beauty that came from the rule of the man many have deemed one of the greatest warlords the world has ever seen.
"I have experienced the sorrow of defeat. But Genghis Khan was never defeated." – Napoleon Bonaparte
"Genghis Khan: Bringing the Legend to Life" runs through April 26 at Union Station in Kansas City.
Some other Missouri museums have fascinating special exhibits of their own that are perfectly designed to combat cabin fever or the winter blues.
Museum of Art and Archaeology, Columbia, March 3-June 21: The Art of Death. The exhibition stems from research into viewer reactions to death imagery in the arts and includes such themes as funerals, personifications of death, suicide and martyrdom, among others. Various 2D media and antiquities associated with funerals and religious aspects of death are featured.
Written by Barb Brueggeman