Exhibition spans 5,000 years and three continents to explore nomadic cultures

July 24, 2006

Exhibition spans 5,000 years and three continents to explore nomadic cultures

Gatineau, July 24, 2006 — Two of the great nomadic cultures in world history are examined side by side for the first time ever in a major exhibition premiering December 1, 2006 at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC). MASTERS of the Plains: Ancient Nomads of Russia and Canada provides a unique look at the bison hunters who once dominated the Great Plains of North America and the livestock herders who once dominated the vast Eurasian Steppes.

The exhibition reveals some striking similarities and differences between the cultures. Although they never came into direct contact, they developed at the same time on very similar grassland environments.

“This direct comparison brings out the rich cultural details of both nomadic groups, putting similarities and differences into sharp focus,” said Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “Masters of the Plains provides a fascinating look at the nomadic lifestyle. It’s also a case study of how different human societies develop and diverge.”

The exhibition was created by a joint team of archaeologists, curators and other specialists from the CMC and the Samara Regional Museum in Russia. It represents the first-ever archaeology and anthropology reasearch partnership of its kind between a Canadian and a Russian museum.

The cultures examined in Masters of the Plains took shape about 5,000 years ago and thrived until modern times, a record of longevity that compares favourably with the great civilizations in history. Their success was based on an intimate knowledge of their own environment and the well-honed skills of their warriors.

Featuring more than 400 artifacts from Canada and Russia, this exhibition examines everyday life on the ancient grasslands. Among the themes explored are food preparation, sacred ceremonies, artistic expression, commercial trade, housing design, modes of travel, and methods of warfare. The exhibition also discusses the end of the nomadic lifestyle — about 300 years ago on the Steppes and 130 years ago on the Plains — brought about by the technology and ambitions of other peoples and cultures.

Masters of the Plains also highlights the enduring legacy of these innovative and resourceful nomadic peoples. Among their contributions to humanity are camping tents and backpacks, snowshoes and baby carriers, horse equipment, and many food products. Even today, these nomads of the ancient grasslands embody the spirit of freedom and wanderlust that lives, however deeply, in every human soul.

Masters of the Plains will have its world premiere at the Canadian Museum of Civilization from December 1, 2006 to September 3, 2007. It will then travel in 2008 to the Samara Regional Museum in Samara, Russia.

Developed by the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Canada, and the Samara Regional Museum, Samara, Russia.

Media Information:

Chief, Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Civilization
Tel.: 819 776-7167

Media Relations Officer
Canadian Museum of Civilization
Tel.: 819 776-7169

Fax: 819 776-7187

2006-07-24 00:00:00.000