Siberia: At the Edge of the World

4 Oct 2014 — 1 Mar 2015 at Manchester Museum in Manchester, United Kingdom

A future owner of the tundra (Nenets) © Lyudmila Lipatova (Salerkhard, Russia)
A future owner of the tundra (Nenets) © Lyudmila Lipatova (Salerkhard, Russia)
22 AUG 2014

Manchester Museum’s next exhibition ‘Siberia: At the Edge of the World’ combines some unique specimens such as a baby mammoth preserved in the permafrost, with stunning artefacts, rare objects and photographs. This is the first UK show on Siberia, and reveals a surprisingly rich and varied picture of this vast, diverse and little known territory. The exhibition includes works from major museums in the UK and Russia, alongside those from Manchester Museum’s collection.

Highlights of the exhibition include the body of a female baby mammoth named ‘Masha’, preserved in the Siberian permafrost for thousands of years, on loan from the Zoological Museum of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg. Woolly mammoths (Mammathus primigenius) were common across Siberia until the late Pleistocene era, 126,000 to 12,000 years ago. Masha is 135cm long and 67cm high and died at the age of 1-3 months, 42,000 years ago. She was discovered in Yamal Peninsula in 1988. The baby mammoth will be shown alongside a woolly mammoth model from London’s Natural History Museum, as well as other mammoth objects such as tusks and carvings.

Alongside the mammoth section, other taxidermy from Siberia will be on show, including a brown bear which Manchester Museum has recently bought from Russia for its collection and which will be shown for the first time, as well as reindeer, wolverine and some rare Siberia birds.

The exhibition gives a fascinating insight into the landscape, natural world and people of this little visited area, with sections on life from the Artic Circle to the wilds of the Taiga Forest and the grassy plains of the Steppes, reflecting a vast area where the climate veers between -50°C in the Siberian winter to summers as hot as +40°C. Hunting, fishing and the every day life of the Siberian people are explored through objects and portraits.

The exhibition shows how the size, geographical position and rich natural resources of Siberia has shaped Russian national identity. Unique folklore has evolved over time, enriched by the ancient traditions of Siberia's indigenous people and the rich mix of cultures and religions in the area. Siberia’s notorious past as a place where criminals, prisoners of war and political convicts were exiled is also featured through photographs and paintings.

The exhibition is curated by Dr Dmitri Logunov, Curator of Arthropods at Manchester Museum and Dr David Gelsthorpe, Curator of Earth Science Collections at Manchester Museum.

Dr Logunov said: “We are really excited to bring the marvels of Siberia to the UK for the first time. Collaborating with museums from Russia has been a great opportunity to look beyond the stereotypical view and reveal the true Siberia.”

Dr Nick Merriman, Director of Manchester Museum said: “This is a very special exhibition. It is the first time Siberian culture and environment has been on show in the UK and it includes some rare items, not least the preserved baby mammoth. This exhibition really shows the diversity of Siberia and is a fascinating insight into an area and cultures we haven’t seen before.”