Crossroads: Exploring the Silk Road Gallery
Welcome to Crossroads: Exploring the Silk Road Gallery! Join us on a journey through Dunhuang, an ancient oasis connecting peoples and cultures, where the sights and sounds come to life through stories, music, tactile objects, an interactive discovery map, intergenerational reading area, and highlights from the museum’s collection. With enhanced accessibility and innovative design features, Crossroads aims to inspire curiosity, build empathy, and catalyze connection by immersing visitors in the stories of intercultural exchange along the Silk Road.
What was the Silk Road?
The Silk Road was a network of ancient trade routes, over land and sea, that connected China to Europe and the Middle East. In addition to trade, the routes were a conduit for the transmission of knowledge, ideas, cultures, languages, and beliefs, and had a profound impact on the history of Asia and Europe. Connections made on those ancient routes impact our lives today.
This gallery focuses on a particular crossroads in the Silk Road network: the Chinese city of Dunhuang and the nearby Mogao Caves. For travelers heading west, Dunhuang was the last stop for caravans to rest and stock up on supplies before they crossed the treacherous Taklamakan Desert. For those traveling east, it was the first oasis on Chinese soil and a gateway to the rest of China.
Imagine being a traveler on the Silk Road 1,300 years ago, at the height of the Tang Dynasty, and stopping in Dunhuang after a long journey. What did you wear? What did you eat? What language did you speak?
We invite you to explore our immersive gallery and discover what it was like to encounter new cultures, objects, and ideas.
Interactive Silk Road Map
Explore some of the most popular stops along the Silk Road from the comfort of your home or classroom with our interactive map!
Click image below to explore the Silk Road Map!
Open in full screen for best view!
Sharing Stories and Music
Sharing stories is one of the oldest forms of communication between people. Stories allow us to experience the world through someone else’s eyes and to enter distant lands, both real and imaginary. Enjoy some of the many stories passed along the Silk Road, adapted and recorded by local storyteller Barbara G. Wong and listen to a selection of songs from the album “The Silk Road: A Musical Caravan” from Smithsonian Folkways.
Link Coming Soon!
Gallery Text Translation
Missed something in the gallery or want to revisit a section? Or maybe you want to read the text in another language or listen using a reading device? The complete gallery text is available in the links below in English, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, and Korean.
One of the central reasons for the Crossroads gallery is its function as an educational space designed to be a resource for teachers and students. The gallery will be incorporated into our School Tours and Distance Learning programs and lead to new curricular resources that the education team will develop over time. Current resources include the digital map, stories and music, a Silk Road glossary, and a lesson plan on ceramics as evidence of trade and cultural exchange.
Crossroads: Exploring the Silk Road Gallery would not be possible without the contributions of local artists, designers, and creators. Learn more about them and their work by clicking on their names and viewing their websites.
- Debi van Zyl – Exhibition Designer
- Stacey Uy – Illustrator
- Narrated Objects – Visitor Response Wall Designers
- Lakan de Leon (Kidlat Woodworks) – Visitor Response Wall Scroll Fabricator
- Barbara G. Wong – Storyteller
The Crossroads gallery is fully ADA accessible. Transcripts of gallery text are available on this webpage in Simplified Chinese, Korean, and Spanish as well as English to be listened to on a reading device. There is a printed Braille book of the gallery text available for check out at the Visitor Services.
Want to keep learning about the Silk Road? Check out some of the resources used by our curatorial and education team to design the gallery.
- Dunhuang Foundation
- UNESCO Silk Road Programme
- International Dunhuang Project
- China National Silk Museum
- UNESCO Silk Road Interactive Map
- Silk Road Ensemble
- Getty Research Institute Mogao Caves
- UNESCO – Mogao Caves
Join us for a special afternoon celebrating the opening of the newly re-designed Crossroads: Exploring the Silk Road Gallery! Enjoy an outdoor artmaking activity, live storytelling, and music and dance performances inspired by the diverse cultures connected through the ancient trade route. Free admission all day! Click here for event details.