1001 Inventions – new exhibition opening Aug 3 at the National Geographic Museum


Award-winning exhibition to open Friday, Aug. 3

            WASHINGTON (June18, 2012)—Travel back to the Golden Age of Muslimcivilization — from the seventh to the 17th centuries — with a newexhibition opening at the National Geographic Museum this summer. “1001Inventions: Discover the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization” is an award-winningtraveling exhibition that highlights the enormous contribution to science andtechnology made by men and women of many different faiths during the era ofMuslim civilization. The exhibition opens Aug. 3, 2012, and runs through Feb.3, 2013.

“Muslim civilization stretched from southern Spain as far as China,”explains Professor Salim Al-Hassani, one of the academics behind the exhibitionand editor of the exhibition’s companion book. “For a thousand years, scholars ofmany faiths built on the ancient knowledge of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans,making breakthroughs that helped pave the way for the Renaissance. Thediscoveries made by men and women in Muslim civilization — from automaticmachines and medical marvels to astronomical observations and inspiringarchitecture — have left their mark on the way we live today.”

            1001 Inventionsis a global educational initiative that promotes awareness of scientific andcultural achievements from the Golden Age of Muslim civilization and how thosecontributions helped build the foundations of our modern world. The “1001Inventions” exhibition was named the Best TouringExhibition of the Year at the Museums and Heritage Excellence Awards (U.K.). This highly interactive exhibition showcases the historicadvancements in navigation, medicine, hydraulics, optics, mathematics and more.

             “1001 Inventions”has drawn millions of visitors in London, Istanbul, New York and Abu Dhabi. A half-millionpeople saw the exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles,where it closed in mid March 2012

The centerpieceof the exhibition is a model of celebrated Ottoman engineer Al-Jazari’s sophisticatedElephant Clock, created more than 800 years ago. The clock was a masterpiece celebrating thediversity of humankind. Its moving parts were automated using a water-poweredtimer inspired by an Indian mechanism known as ghatika. Combined withthis were an Egyptian phoenix, Greek hydraulic technology, Chinese dragons, anIndian elephant and mechanical figurines in Arabian dress. The clock cleverlyreflected cultural and technological influences from across Muslim civilization,from Spain to China. Every halfhour the timer would set off a series of sounds and movements. A ball rolledfrom the top of the clock, turning an hour dial, while the scribe and his penturned automatically to show the minutes past the hour.

The work of influential scientists, such as physicist Ibnal-Haytham, is highlighted in the exhibition. Al-Haytham’s ideas about opticsoverturned the ancient theory that our eyes send out invisible rays in order tosee. He proved his theory of light rays being reflected from visible objects tobuild the first camera obscura. Theexhibition includes camera obscuraexamples and other advancements in optics, showing how early people came tounderstand the complex concepts behind vision.

The exhibitionalso features models and illustrations of energy-efficient courtyard houses modeledon those developed more than 4,500 years ago. They incorporated natural coolingelements in their design, such as double-glazed windows, thick external wallsand air-scoops for natural cross ventilation. Current energy-efficient housesuse these same environmentally friendly, energy-efficient techniques today.

“1001 Inventions” also includes many everyday objects that many donot know were invented by men and women of the Golden Age of Muslim civilization.Items such as perfume, fabrics, the game of chess and more are featured to showvisitors the importance of past inventions in our daily livestoday.

“The mission of National Geographic isto spread knowledge of the world and its cultures — past and present,” saidKathryn Keane, vice president of exhibitions at the National GeographicSociety. “This exhibition is an opportunity to share the fascinating history ofMuslim civilization with our audiences and to celebrate great scientificachievement and innovation.”

Inconjunction with the museum exhibition, the National Geographic Museum willhost the 1001 Inventions Family Festival on Saturday, Sept. 8, from 10 a.m. to 4p.m. This outdoor festival will include performances, music and danceworkshops, hands-on art activities, tastings, demonstrations and a craftbazaar. In addition, admission to the museum will be free all day. The festivalis supported by a grant from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

            National Geographic Books recently published thecompanion book to the exhibition, “1001 Inventions:The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Civilization” (National Geographic;ISBN 978-1-4262-0934; $28), that delves into some of the most importantinventions from the period.

            The “1001 Inventions” exhibition issupported by the UK-based Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation,an international network of academic experts, as its Global Knowledge Partner.Additional support comes from the Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives,philanthropic arm of the ALJ Group of companies, which serves as the GlobalStrategic Partner of 1001 Inventions. The exhibition is locally sponsored byGeico and Busboys & Poets, which will be hosting events in conjunction withthe exhibition through its run in D.C.

NationalGeographic Museum, 1145 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., is opendaily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is closed Dec. 25. Admission is $8 for adults;$6 for National Geographic members, military, students, seniors and groups of25 or more; $4 for children ages 5-12; and free (reservation required) forschool, student and youth groups (age 18 and under).Tickets may be purchased online at www.ngmuseum.org; via telephone at (202) 857-7700; or in person at the NationalGeographic ticket office, 1600 M Street, N.W., between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.For more information on group sales, call (202) 857-7281 or email groupsales@ngs.org.

Photography exhibitions in the museum’s M Street gallery andoutdoors are free. For information on the “1001 Inventions” exhibition as wellas the Titanic: 100 Year Obsession” exhibition, open through Sept. 9, thepublic should call (202) 857-7588 or visit www.ngmuseum.org.


Aboutthe 1001 Inventions Initiative

1001 Inventions isa global educational initiative that promotes awareness of 1,000 years ofscientific and cultural achievements from Muslim civilization from the 7thcentury onwards, and how those contributions helped build the foundations ofour modern world. The content of the “1001 Inventions”exhibition was reviewed and approved by an independent panel of academics fromthe London Science Museum and was also reviewed by academic experts retained byCalifornia Science Center. Further information is available from the officialwebsite www.1001inventions.com.

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