Regional Museum of Southern Kazakhstan


In its shiny new quarters on the northern outskirts of the city, this regional museum has well-presented, trilingual displays on local geology, Iron Age burial mounds (check out the human bones buried in a large clay pot) and archaeological finds from famous sites such as Otrar (silver jewellery) and Sayran (13th-century Chinese vase). There's an excellent ethnography section, with elaborate horse tackle and shamanistic implements, a splendid collection of 19th-century heavy silver jewellery, and some fine traditional musical instruments.

Upstairs is less interesting: a hit-and-miss romp through Kazakhstan's more recent history (labelling in Kazakh only), plus displays on the Soviet and post-independence eras, including Shymkent's main industries. Spot the photos of Shymkent’s best-known daughter – gymnast Nellie Kim, winner of five Olympic golds in 1976 and 1980.

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