AMIR TIMUR MUSEUM IN TASHKENT(STATE MUSEUM OF THE TIMURIDS)
Erected in record time for Tamerlane’s 660th birthday, the outsize ribbed dome conceals a bold interior where Timurid meets independent Uzbekistan.
STATE FINE ARTS MUSEUM OF UZBEKISTAN IN TASHKENT
Address of the museum in Tashkent: 16 Movarounnahkr Street (tel. 1367436) (10am-5pm, Monday 10am-1.30pm, closed Tuesday).
In 1974 this Tashkent museum was ready to receive the collection established in 1918 from works confiscated from Grand Duke Romanov, an exiled cousin of the tsar, who in turn had probably stolen them from St Petersburg’s Hermitage. These are displayed on the second floor and include European paintings and sculpture from the 15th-20th centuries, notably Russian icons from Novgorod. Soviet artists like Benkov and Volkov feature throughout, though independence has packed away more propagandist canvases in favour of colourful bazaar scenes. Uzbek art dominates the ground and first floors: ceramics from the ninth to 17th centuries; tile fragments from Samarkand, Shakhrisabz, Bukhara and Khiva; finely carved wooden doors and shutters; Bukharan court robes heavy with gold embroidery; ornate metalware and much more. Behind the museum is the Fidoliyar or Communards’ Garden, laid out in the 1880s and subsequently given over to the graves of heroes, notably Bolsheviks who died in Revolutionary streetfighting in 1917, the 14 Turkestan Commissars who fell victim to Ossipov’s treachery in 1919, first Uzbek president Yuldush Akhunbabayev and first Uzbek general Sabir Rakhimov.
ART GALLERY OF UZBEKISTAN IN TASHKENT
Address of the gallery in Tashkent: 2 Buyuk Turon (tel. 133 5674), (llam-5pm, closed Sunday & Monday). Gallery of 20th century art opened in 2004.
MUSEUM OF APPLIED ARTS IN TASHKENT
Address of the museum in Tashkent: 15 Rakatboshi St (tel. 563943) (9am-6pm, closed Tuesday).
This Tashkent museum is as popular for its setting as for its many beautiful exhibits. Tsarist diplomat Alexandrovich Polovtsev expressed his appreciation of Uzbek architecture by having his residence built by masters from Bukhara, Samarkand, Khiva, Ferghana and Tashkent. He was transferred before completion in 1907, so never saw the finished courtyard of verandas and reception halls, vibrant with colour, ganch and wooden carving. The mihrab niche in the main hall points in the opposite direction to Mecca as Polovtsev desired decorative not functional Islam. Omar Khayam quotes frame two doorways: The world is a great caravanserai with two doors: one entrance and one exit. Every day new guests come to the caravanserai.’ Among the store of 19th-20th century embroidery are many items essential to a bride’s dowry (traditional wedding rites empowered them to protect the young couple from evil): suzanne wall-hangings and variants such as oi-palyak, lunar sky, and gulkurpa, flower blanket. Tubyeiteka (skullcaps) display similar diversity in stitching, motifs and symbolism. Carved wooden furniture includes tables and laukhi, folding book stands, by Kokandian master Khaidarov. Other halls feature regional ceramics, metalware, musical instruments for festive occasions, such as karnai pipes and doira drums, and jewellery sets weighing up to 20 kilograms.
THE STATE MUSEUM OF PEOPLES HISTORY OF UZBEKISTAN IN TASHKENT
In 1970, the centenary of Lenin’s birth, Tashkent lauded the opening of this white marble shrine to the life of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov. For two decades Young Pioneers ‘gazed at over 3,000 exhibits: carpets, statues, even a copy of blood-stained clothes from a 1920 assassination attempt. Independence has killed the cult in favour of a post-Soviet version. Besides contemporary propaganda, the core collection is from the now defunct Aiybek Museum, founded in 1876 as Central Asia’s first and strong on archaeological explanation of the Uzbek heritage. Highlights include Uzbekistan’s only complete Buddha figure (first/second century), a replica of the Osman Koran, an outsize 7th century work, and reconstructions of Samarkand’s Bibi Khanum mausoleum, Ulug Beg Observatory and Khorezm’s Koi Krylgan Kala.
ALISHER NAVOI LITERARY MUSEUM IN TASHKENT
Address of the museum in Tashkent: 69 Navoi St (tel. 410275) (10am-5pm, closed Saturday).
A tall statue of the poet announces his museum. Born in Herat, Afghanistan in 1441, he was educated there, and at Meshed and Samarkand, and enjoyed illustrious careers in literature and politics. His skills extended to painting, music and sculpture, while his benevolence endowed countless mosques, schools and hospitals. An early work, the Judgement of Two Languages, proved that Chagatai, the eastern Turkish vernacular, could be as richly descriptive as Persian or Arabic. He remained a bilingual craftsman, writing poetry of romance, nature and philosophy in both Chagatai and Persian, but it was his development of the former that lends him the mantles Chaucer of the Turks and Father of Uzbek Literature. He died in Herat in 1501. The museum displays manuscripts and miniatures, as well as halls painted in the palace and garden scenes of his major work, the Khamsa quintet. Also featured are copies of the busts of Tamerlane and his son Shah Rukh, created by the archaeologist who examined their bones, and a model of the famous observatory of Shah Rukh’s son, Ulug Beg.
MUSEUM OF DEFENCE MINISTRY OF UZBEKISTAN IN TASHKENT
Address of the museum in Tashkent: 98 Akademik K. Abdullaev St (tel. 1624175), (10am-5pm, closed Monday, Tuesday).
Set behind a giant, Uzbek soldier, swearing to his Motherland – Uzbekistan, this Tashkent museum is in the garden of military cast-offs. Inside are fascinating, as yet unreconstructed displays of Soviet might. Highlights include World War II posters and a telephone barking the orders of General Frunze.
TAMARA KHANUM MUSEUM IN TASHKENT
Address of the museum in Tashkent: House 1, Flat 14, Tamara Khanum St (tel. 678690), (10am-4pm, closed Sunday).
The last home of Uzbekistan’s greatest dancer, Tamara Khanum (1906-1991), a Margilan-born Armenian who-‘devoted her life to Central Asian folk dance and female liberation. Previously women could sing and dance only at home, while young boys played female roles in public performances. Tamara was among the first to perform unveiled. Among photos, paintings and posters are many of her beautiful costumes. Behind the Bakhor concert hall on Independence Square, dance fans will enjoy the small Mukarram Turgunbaeva Museum (tel. 564052), commemorating Uzbekistan’s first female professional dancer, and the Bakhor troupe.
OTHER MUSEUMS INCLUDE:
MUSEUM OF THE VICTIMS REPRESSIONS IN TASHKENT
At new Martyrs Memorial Square (Shokhidlar Hotirasi Maydoni) on Amir Timur near Intercontinental Hotel, (tel. 1442940, 10am-5pm, closed Monday).
Explores the arrival and impact of the Russians, plus local responses for over a century.
GEOLOGY MUSEUM IN TASHKENT
Address of the museum in Tashkent: 1 Furkat St (tel. 451337), (10am-4pm, closed weekends)
A new museum of dinosaurs and minerals.
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM IN TASHKENT
Address of the museum in Tashkent: 16 Sagban St, Chorsu Square (tel. 1443372), (9am-5pm, closed Monday)
From cavemen and their paintings to cotton and dying seas.
RAILWAY MUSEUM IN TASHKENT
Address of the museum in Tashkent: 6 Turkiston St, beside Tashkent station at Movarounnakhr St crossroads (tel. 1997040).
Climb aboard Soviet trains.
MUSEUM OF OLYMPIC GLORY IN TASHKENT
Address of the museum in Tashkent: 4ASharofRashidovAve. (tel. 1447602), (9am-5pm, closed Sunday). The sporting pride of a nation.
CENTRAL ASIA MUSEUM IN TASHKENT
Address of the museum in Tashkent: 71 Khamza St (tel. 1339816), (10am-5pm, closed Sunday). Eclectic mix of paintings and textiles, some for sale.
CENTRE OF MODERN ART IN TASHKENT
Address of the museum in Tashkent: 4 Okhunboboev St (tel. 1335081, Lilya Hafisova), (10am-5pm, closed Monday, entry 1500 sum). Bright new gallery within grand old shell (1934), shared with the Tashkent House of Photography (tel. 1339857).
MUSEUM OF MINIATURE ARTS IN TASHKENT
Address of the museum in Tashkent: Kamoliddin Bekhzod Memorial Park.
HOUSE MUSEUM OF AYBEJ MUSA TASHMUKHAMEDOV (1905-1968) IN TASHKENT
Address of the museum in Tashkent: 26 Tezetdinova (tel. 398 0900). Restored home of the Soviet Uzbek writer, in the old town.