The Life and Legacy of Genghis Khan

Explore the Fascinating Story of His Rise from Poverty To Ruler of Much of the Known World

Journey back in time to learn about 13th-century Mongolia through stories, historical artifacts, live performances, and the enduring legacy of one of the world’s most controversial leaders at The Life and Legacy of Genghis Khan, the latest world-class exhibit to open at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). Visitors to the exhibit have the chance to uncover the facts and stories about the impacts of Genghis Khan and his descendants on world history and their continuing influence on the culture and people of present-day Mongolia.
The Life and Legacy of Genghis Khan provides a rare opportunity for visitors to step back in time to 13th century Mongolia with one of history’s most recognized and debated figures,” said Erin Graham, president and CEO of OMSI. “The experience showcases ways that culture, science, and innovation are woven together, and the enduring influence this period in Mongolian history has had on the world.  Our educators have also developed fascinating new programming bridging the ancient and the modern focused on Genghis Khan’s genetic legacy as uncovered through DNA research.” 

This exhibit tells the story of how Genghis Khan, a poor, fatherless, nomadic boy, developed the skill and cunning to establish the largest land empire ever to exist, dominating three times more land in his lifetime than either Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great. Additionally, his descendents established the modern borders of nations from India to Iran, and Korea to China, and opened the trade routes that united East and West, forever after. 

Presented in the Pacific Northwest for the first time, this world tour features nearly 300 spectacular objects. These rare and sophisticated weapons, costumes, jewels, ornaments, instruments, and numerous other fascinating relics and elaborate artifacts present the story of this legendary leader and his people. With hundreds of authentic artifacts, this historic exhibit offers the largest such collection ever to tour.

However, the exhibit is much more than a brilliant collection of artifacts; it’s an immersive experience. At the beginning of their journey, exhibit visitors will receive the identity of a Mongolian resident. Whether a warrior, spy, or princess, visitors will follow their life throughout the rise of the great Mongol Empire across six key scenes and eight unique galleries: 

The Grasslands: Discover the daily life of a nomad on the high plateaus of Central Asia and learn about Genghis Khan’s earliest struggles as an outcast. Walk into a traditional Mongol ger (yurt) home. Stand in the midst of a herd of stampeding horses.

Rise of the Mongols: Learn how the young, charismatic Genghis Khan united warring tribes in order to form an unrivaled cavalry. Explore the equestrian culture and innovations in weaponry that Genghis Khan mastered in order to control four times more land than any empire in history.

The Walled City: Enter the recreation of Karakorum, the walled city, which became the capital of the Mongolian Empire after Genghis Khan’s son inherited the kingdom. See how life changed for the Mongols once they had vanquished all of their enemies, when arts and diverse religions and cultures flourished as the need for war subsided. 

The Silk Road: Learn how Genghis Khan was a ruthless warrior but also a savvy statesman and benevolent ruler. Understand how he developed a written language and a sophisticated society with fair taxation, stable government, appreciation of the arts, religious freedom and open trade along the Silk Road. Explore this vital trade route which enabled the exchange of both goods and ideas between cultures.

The Palace of Kublai Khan: Enter the Chinese palace of Xanadu, the center of the Empire of Genghis Khan’s grandson, Kublai, who became the first Mongol to rule in China. See porcelain treasures and a sword with the emblem of a guardian of Marco Polo, among many others.

Mongolia Today: Understand the distinctive nomadic culture of Genghis Khan’s time which persists to this day as the nation and language he created lives on eight centuries after his rule. Mongolia is a country in transition as traditional ways intersect with the modern trappings of life in the 21st century. Through photography and music, catch a glimpse of this remote Central Asian country and its people. 

Modern science has uncovered another legacy of Genghis Khan: his DNA. OMSI’s Genetic Connection exhibit explores gene inheritance and Y-chromosomal lineages to examine how DNA research has found 16 million men to be descendants of Genghis Khan. Visitors will collaborate to complete touch-free challenges as well as consider thought-provoking questions about the controversial actions of Genghis Khan and how genetics can influence our personal identity.  

The Life and Legacy of Genghis Khan opens at OMSI on Oct 24, 2020, and will be on view through Feb. 15, 2021. Guests can purchase tickets online at, via phone at 503.797.4000, or in person at the museum. Exhibit admissions are currently limited to 25% of regular capacity with staggered entry times, which is why it is recommended that visitors purchase tickets online beforehand.

Tickets & Pricing
Member Price: Free for OMSI Members
General Admission: Adult: $12, Youth (ages 3-13) $10, Senior (age 63+) $8

Museum Hours of Operation
Tuesday–Sunday: 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Monday: Closed, with the exception of Portland Public School holidays 
About The Life and Legacy of Genghis Khan
The exhibition was organized by Don Lessem, author and president of Exhibits Rex, Inc., with curatorial consultation by two leading Genghis Khan experts and scholars, Dr. William Fitzhugh of the Smithsonian Institution and Dr. Morris Rossabi of Columbia University. Lessem developed Genghis Khan in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Lenders include the National Museum of Mongolian History, the Institute of Archaeology of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, the National Library of Mongolia, the Military Museum of Mongolia, the Dornod Province Museum in Mongolia, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Kooros and Gotuaco families, the Xinhuan Collection, and Arthur Leeper.

About OMSI
Founded in 1944, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is one of the nation’s leading science museums, a world-class tourist attraction, and an award-winning educational resource for the kid in each of us. OMSI operates the largest museum-based outdoor science education program in the country and provides traveling and community outreach programs that bring science learning opportunities to schools and community organizations in every county in Oregon and throughout the region. OMSI is located at 1945 SE Water Avenue, Portland, OR 97214. For general information, call 503.797.4000 or visit