This exhibition is the first in France to be dedicated to one of history’s greatest conquerors: Chinggis Khaan.
From the Mongol plains to the southernmost borders of China, from the Pacific Ocean to the far reaches of the Middle East, Chinggis Khaan and his descendants built a vast empire during the 13th century that would change the face of the Earth.
At their peak, Mongol controlled more than 22% of the Earth’s surface, and Chinggis Khaan’s grandson, Kublai Khaan, Great Khaan of the Mongol, became Emperor of China by founding the Yuan Dynasty, establishing the capital in Dadu (current-day Beijing). After years of violent conquest, the “Pax Mongolica” allowed for commercial, scientific, and artistic relations to flourish between the East and West, allowing for an unparalleled period of exchange.
With the rare exhibition of objects from Mongolia’s national collections – including a large number of national treasures, complemented by objects from major French and European museums – this exhibition offers an insight into the history of this great empire of Chinggis Khaan.
This exhibition was made with the support of the Mongol government, through its loan of priceless items from its national collections, and notably from the new Chinggis Khaan National Museum. This show has been organized through the combined forces of Presidents of the two Republics – Mongolia and France – and has been awarded the distinction of being an “exhibition of national interest” by the French Ministry of Culture. More than just an exhibition on the military glory of one of history’s greatest conquerors, this show will take a new approach to showing how the Mongol changed the world.
Through its interactions between its countless conquered territories and neighbouring nations – from China to the Mediterranean – and through the control and protection of the silk routes during the Pax Mongolica, the Mongol Empire allowed for numerous transformations to take place in all fields – economic, artistic, scientific, cultural, and religious – thanks to the wilfully implemented principle of free trade by the Khan emperors, in what was one of the great globalizations of the medieval era.
The exhibition will explore many of these profound changes, particularly for our own societies. One well-known figure sums up what it was like to encounter the Mongol: Marco Polo. His book, The Travels of Marco Polo, was widely read in all European courts at the time. The Mongol Empire eventually collapsed, partly due to its sheer size, but also to the effects of the Black Plague. One hundred and fifty years later, one man would seek to reconnect with this desired and distant horizon – but to no avail: Christopher Columbus.
This exhibition will engage with visitors in many ways.
Atmospheric sounds will be played throughout the exhibition to take visitors on a voyage of discovery. Several films have been produced that focus on key themes, such as the Silk Road, the figure of Chinggis Khaan, and the Mongol new cartographic vision of the world.
A number of touch-screens will allow visitors to browse through documents and texts on objects – many of which are exceptional in terms of their multicultural origins. And, perhaps the pinnacle of the exhibition: a projected, life-size, nearly 3-metre tall, headstone accompanied by visual and sound effects. It will surely be one of the exhibition’s highlights.
It will also be accompanied by a diverse cultural program, where visitors can discover contemporary Mongolia. Events focusing on cinema, contemporary and folk music, storytelling, dance, popular culture, traditional Mongol games, cuisine, calligraphy, history, literature, and photography will make for a cultural season to remember.
Curator: Jean-Paul Desroches, Marie Favereau and Bertrand Guillet
Château des ducs de Bretagne, 4 Pl. Marc Elder, 44000 Nantes
How to get there?
Open today from 10h00 to 18h00.
From november 2nd 2023 to may 5th 2024
from 10h00 to 18h00 on tuesday, wednesday, thursday, friday, saturday, sunday
Closed on Mondays, 1 November, 25 December and 1 January.
Special opening on Monday 16 October
Free for PASS Nantes holders
Book PASS Nantes
Full fare: €9
Reduced fare*: €5
age 18-25 – teachers – one hour before closing
under age 18 – registered unemployed – welfare recipients – disabled visitors and their accompanying person – holders of the Pass Château, Pass Nantes and Pass inter-musées – journalists