December 23, 2008 — Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pa., will present the acclaimed exhibit “The Horse” in 2009–an in-depth look that showcases spectacular fossils, models, dioramas and cultural objects from around the world.
The exhibit also shows how horses have influenced civilization and major changes in warfare, trade, transportation, agriculture, sports and many other facets of human life.
“‘The Horse’ provides visitors with a rare opportunity to understand the sweeping history of this beloved animal,” said Dr. Sandra Olsen, Curator of Anthropology at Carnegie Museum of Natural History and co-curator of “The Horse.” “From its origins more than 50 million years ago, through its relationship with humans over the millennia, to its roles in modern society, the horse has left an indelible mark on our world.”
Dr. Olsen is one of the foremost authorities of early horse domestication and uncovered the site of the oldest-known settlement with domesticated horses. Her research is featured in the exhibit with a video presentation.
“The Horse” was organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York, where it was first exhibited for most of 2008. After Carnegie Museum of Natural History, it will travel to the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH); the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau-Ottawa; The Field Museum, Chicago; and the San Diego Natural History Museum.
“This thoughtful and compelling exhibition interpret the long history of the horse from a particularly insightful viewpoint, offering an in-depth look at how every facet of human existence has been influenced by our relationship with the horse,” said Dr. Samuel Taylor, Director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
Visitors entering the exhibition are immediately shown a high-definition video projection of a beautiful Thoroughbred horse moving across a giant screen. A large-scale video and computer interactive allows visitors to peek inside a life-size, moving horse to learn about its anatomy and biology. They also encounter a 220-square-foot diorama depicting some of the horse species that existed 10 million years ago in what is now Nebraska, representations of the horse in art from the Paleolithic to the present, and equipment such as a full suit of horse armor from 15th-century Germany and a horse-drawn fire engine from the 19th century. The exhibition also examines exciting new archaeological discoveries concerning the domestication of the horse and looks at the role of horses in sport, from medieval times on.
“The Horse” offers numerous interactive stations throughout the exhibition inviting visitors to touch casts of horse teeth and feet as well as a full-size bas relief of a horse against which visitors can measure themselves. Activities invite visitors to measure their strength in horsepower and discover characteristics of many different breeds of horses on a computer interactive. Visitors can examine different gaits of a horse by looking through a zoetrope–a precursor to the modern movie projector–at the revolutionary series of photographs taken by the famous photographer Eadweard Muybridge.
Videos include an interview with Dr. Olsen on recent discoveries of horse domestication in Kazakhstan as well a short film examining the enduring bond between humans and horses. Throughout the exhibition, visitors are quizzed to identify objects such as a Roman horseshoe, a stirrup, a bridle ornament, and a whip used in buzkashi, a polo-like sport played in Central Asia.
For more information on the exhibit and Carnegie Museum of Natural History, visit www.carnegiemnh.org or call 412-622-3131.
Read Nancy Jaffer’s article about the exhibit’s New York opening.