This online exhibition, and the multiyear presentation of Chokan Valikhanov’s work that it inaugurates, have been made possible through the generous support of Chevron.

Astana Air has also generously provided transportation assistance for this project, and for the museum development seminars and colloquia from which this research project arose. The exchange visits for research and development of the Valikhanov online exhibition will continue to include, as an important part of the project, the seminars and colloquia at Kazakhstan’s museums and scholarly institutions.

For these seminars and lectures by Smithsonian staff from the Office of Policy and Analysis and the Asian Cultural History Program, the support of the U.S. Department of State, through the Embassy of the United States of America in Astana, Kazakhstan (and its consulate general in Almaty), has been essential and much appreciated, both by the Smithsonian and by seminar participants in Astana, Almaty, Pavlodar, Oskemen, Kokshetau, and many other locations. Special thanks are due to the Honorable Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland, and to many U.S. Embassy staff including (in 2010) Jeffrey Sexton (Public Affairs Counselor), Robert Laing (Public Affairs Officer in Almaty), cultural affairs staff members Leila Aitmukhanova (Almaty) and Zhanar Kul-Mukhammed (Astana), and Leili Kokh (U.S. Embassy American Corners Coordinator). Thanks are also due to numerous former Embassy staff members including former Public Affairs Officer Victoria Sloan (Astana) and former Cultural Affairs Officer Jonathan Mennuti (Almaty).

The Smithsonian team preparing this exhibition also expresses its thanks to the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Washington, D.C., for assistance in facilitating past research and lecture trips to Kazakhstan, and for Embassy assistance in obtaining images and information, as well as license to publish images that we had obtained from government institutions or publications in Kazakhstan.

The Smithsonian team acknowledges and appreciates the continuing teamwork and assistance of the A. Kasteev State Museum of Arts in Almaty, Kazakhstan, which organized a joint Smithsonian-Kasteev seminar in Almaty (March, 2010) about the online presentation of Valikhanov’s work, as part of the preparation for this new project. This new cooperative activity continues in the spirit of exchanges established under the terms of the 2005 International Partnership Among Museums (IPAM) grant made to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the Kasteev Museum by the American Association for Museums. The Museum’s scholarly review and assistance in the preparation and carrying out of this project are much appreciated.

Finally, our project team expresses its deep appreciation to all those who have made it possible for us to launch this online exhibition (even in its preliminary form), and this multiyear project, at a very special event on April 14, 2010 at the Kogod Courtyard of the the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, under the gracious patronage of His Excellency, Nursultan Nazarbaev, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Beginning the next day, April 15, 2010, and continuing through December 2010, numerous events, lectures, films, performances, and other activities relating to Kazakhstan have been scheduled around Washington, D.C. at various universities, auditoriums and other venues. These constitute the “Washington Kazakhstan Festival 2010.” These events and performances will surely make many people more aware of the cultural heritage of Kazakhstan today, including the Kazakh folk music, sung epic tales and nomadic cultural forms that so fascinated the nineteenth-century scholar – sometimes called “the first Kazakh scholar” – Chokan Valikhanov. All who participate in these events owe a debt of thanks to the Washington Kazakhstan Festival Committee (whose Honorary Chairman is H.E. Ambassador Erlan Idrissov of the Embassy of Kazakhstan).

Project Team

The project has been organized and carried out by the Smithsonian’s Office of Policy and Analysis, headed by Dr. Carole M.P. Neves, with the help of Lance Costello (web manager), Samantha Grauberger (program manager), William Bradford Smith and Benjamin A. Wilson (researchers), and with the editorial assistance of Whitney Watriss. Research and content support for the project has been provided by the Smithsonian’s Asian Cultural History Program (ACHP), headed by Dr. Paul Michael Taylor (who serves as Curator of Asian, European, and Middle Eastern Ethnology, as well as director of the Asian Cultural History Program), along with ACHP staff and associates including Jared M. Koller (researcher and web developer), Gregory P. Shook (program manager), Christopher Lotis (publications director and project coordinator), and researchers Adam Grode, Robert Pontsioen, and Madhuca Krishan. Dr. Amir Jadaibayev of the Kasteev Museum is scheduled to join the Smithsonian team in Washington during the first year of the project.

Smithsonian staff who have participated in the preparation of the Valikhanov research project, Paul Taylor, Gregory Shook, Jared Koller, and William Bradford Smith, along with Mikhail Weitz of the National Museum of Natural History’s Information Technology Office (NMNH-ITO), have also participated as lecturers within the Smithsonian’s series of international museum partnership lectures at Kazakh museums during regular visits to Kazakhstan since 2005, under the auspices of the International Partnerships Among Museums (IPAM) project. That series of exchanges began in 2005 under the terms of the IPAM partnership grant documents co-signed by the directors (at that time) of the National Museum of Natural History and of the A. Kasteev Museum of Arts in Almaty, Kazakhstan. At these seminars, participants developed the idea of undertaking, as a joint effort of the Smithsonian with museums of Kazakhstan, the online organization, translation and publication of selected source materials about Chokan Valikhanov, along with interpretive essays to be developed over time. This online exhibition is one result of the continuing dialogue among museums.