Discover Kazakhstan

Stone mosque. Sketch by Chokan Valikhanov, Ink on paper, 1856.

About this Project

The Office of Policy and Analysis, Smithsonian Institution, working in conjunction with the Smithsonian’s Asian Cultural History Program (ACHP) at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), is proud to launch, with this online exhibition, a multiyear project that presents the scientific expeditions and contributions of the great Kazakh geographer and ethnographer, Chokan Valikhanov (1835-1865). Beginning in 2010, the 175th anniversary year of Valikhanov’s birth, this online space will offer archival and published documents and materials, to be augmented over a two-year period.

The study and publication of Valikhanov’s scientific explorations are a collaborative effort between the Smithsonian and museums of Kazakhstan. This collaboration derived from a series of exchanges and seminars that began in 2005 with an International Partnership Among Museums grant from the American Association of Museums, awarded to the National Museum of Natural History and the A. Kasteev State Museum of Arts (Almaty, Kazakhstan).

This exhibition has grown out of the longstanding partnership between the Smithsonian and the State Museums of Kazakhstan. In addition to raising awareness of Kazakhstan, it presents to an international audience the expeditionary accounts and scientific accomplishments of this noted 19th century Kazakh geographer and ethnographer. Long after the website launch, scholars in the U.S. and Kazakhstan will continue to research and publish Valikhanov’s original expedition records and collections. This joint effort places within proper historic context the rich collections from Valikhanov’s 19th century expeditions, which focused on his interpretations of the cultural history of the peoples of Kazakhstan, and provides a magnificent overview of Kazakhstan’s history.