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In Brief

In Washington, Exploring Muslim Civilization's Golden Era

24 September 2012

Museum visitors examining replica of 13th-century clock with elephant base (1001 Inventions)

A traveling exhibition, 1001 Inventions: Discover the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization, has arrived at the National Geographic Museum in Washington. The exhibition showcases scientific and technological advances that shaped today's world, revealing the multicultural roots of modern science.

An award-winning interactive exhibition, 1001 Inventions: Discover the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization, is attracting lots of attention in Washington.

The traveling exhibition showcases the groundbreaking scientific and cultural achievements made by men and women of different faiths and backgrounds living in Muslim cultures from the seventh to the 17th centuries. According to many historians, these contributions were possible because innovators were able to work in an environment of unfettered intellectual freedom.

Historians also say the scientific and technological advances of classical Muslim civilization illustrate the multicultural roots of modern science.

Exhibition highlights include automatic machines (such as the famed Elephant Clock, featured here in a working replica), medical instruments and procedures, astronomical observations and sophisticated architectural techniques. The Elephant Clock, designed by a 13th-century mechanical engineer called al-Jazari, has cross-cultural elements such as Chinese dragons, an Egyptian phoenix and wooden robots wearing Arab turbans.

The 1001 Inventions exhibition made its debut in London and moved to Istanbul and then to New York and Los Angeles, attracting record crowds before opening in Washington at the National Geographic Museum on August 3. It will remain on view in Washington until February 3, 2013.

“The mission of National Geographic is to spread knowledge of the world and its cultures — past and present,” said Kathryn Keane, vice president of exhibitions at the National Geographic Society. “This exhibition is an opportunity to share the fascinating history of Muslim civilization with our audiences and to celebrate great scientific achievement and innovation.”