The Zoological Museum of the Biology and Soil Institute in Bishkek

Bishkek is rich in some of the most unusual museums I have ever witnessed. Topping my personal list is the Zoological Museum of the Biology and Soil Institute, a tiny gem located along one of the city’s major thoroughfares, Chuy Avenue. The first iteration of the zoological museum opened in 1946 on Ala-Too Square. However, […]

Iskhak Razzakov: The Popular Kyrgyz Hero and His House Museum

The Memorial House of Iskhak Razzakov opened on December 20, 2005. The house served as the home for the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kirghizia (Kyrgyzstan) throughout the span of the Soviet Union. Iskhak Razzakov lived in the home with his two children and wife during his tenure as First Secretary from 1950-1961. […]

Memorial House Museum of O.M. Manuilova in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Tucked between modern towers and Soviet monuments of Bishkek’s downtown area stands a small, gated house. A plaque outside humbly identifies it as the Memorial House Museum of O.M. Manuilova. Olga Maksimilianovna Manuilova was born in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia in 1893 and educated as a sculptor in Moscow. The daughter of a military doctor, her […]

Chingiz Aitmatov: Respected Author, Diplomat, and Advocate for Kyrgyz Culture

Chingiz Aitmatov is best known as Kyrgyzstan’s most beloved author, but he represents much more than that to the Kyrgyz people today. His more than thirty novels represent honestly the Soviet experience and the social and moral dilemmas that Central Asian people endured. He wrote about love, heroism, friendship, nature, inequality between men and women, […]

Magtymguly Pyragy and the Turkmen Nation    

The name Magtymguly Pyragy might sound hopelessly unfamiliar to a Western ear. For Turkmens, the main ethnic group inhabiting the former Soviet republic Turkmenistan, however, it is a household name. Magtymguly (pronounced Mahg-tim-goo-lee) was an 18th century Sufi poet and spiritual teacher. Today he is considered the father of Turkmen literature and is a nationally […]

Kyrgyz State Opera and Ballet Theater in Bishkek: History and Artistry Through Student Eyes

The Kyrgyz State Opera and Ballet Theater is a prominant fixture in central Bishkek with a nearly century-old history. It is a pride of the city’s artistic and intellectual community and often recommended to SRAS students studying in Bishkek by locals. Below is the history and performances of this great institution as told by American […]

Kazakh New Wave Cinema: Kazakhstan Finds Its Place in Global Film

New wave, an art world term for any time when a sudden explosion of art is made with experimental styles, is an apt title for the movement that elevated the Kazakhstan film industry from obscurity to international fame in just a matter of years. In an interview for the Los Angeles Times in 1990, Forrest […]

A Day in Tashkent’s Old City: Travel from Bishkek with SRAS

As part of SRAS’s Central Asian Studies program, students had the opportunity to travel to Uzbekistan for a full week. The first day of this week-long expedition began with a half-day tour of Tashkent’s old part of town. We were accompanied by our guide, Donat, or “Don” for short. He had outstanding English, and even […]

The Mikhail Frunze Museum in Bishkek

The Mikhail Frunze Museum in Bishkek was founded by the Soviets as part of their tribute to Mikhail Frunze. Mikhail Frunze was a Red Army leader that was instrumental in crushing resistance in Central Asia during the Russian Civil War. In his honor, the city, which had previously been known as Pishpek, was renamed Frunze […]

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