Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts

Top choice in Ulaanbaatar

This fine-arts museum has a superb collection of paintings, carvings and sculptures, including many by the revered sculptor and artist Zanabazar. It also contains other rare religious exhibits such as scroll thangka (paintings) and Buddhist statues, representing the best display of its kind in Mongolia. A bonus is that most of the exhibit captions are in English, to go with a very comprehensive audio guide.

On display are some fine examples of the sculptor’s work, including five Dhyani, or Contemplation Buddhas (cast in 1683) and Tara in her 21 manifestations. Also worth checking out are the wonderful tsam masks (worn by monks during religious ceremonies) and the intricate paintings, One Day in Mongolia and the Airag Feast, by the renowned artist B Sharav. These paintings depict almost every aspect of nomadic life.

As you enter the building, a room on the left displays ancient art, including deer stones that date to the Bronze Age. To the right is a shop selling souvenirs and contemporary art.

The building itself carries some historical value. It was built in 1905, making it one of the oldest Manchu-era commercial buildings in the city. It was first used as a Chinese Bank, Soviet troops stayed here in the 1920s, and it later served as Ulaanbaatar’s first State Department Store. It has been an art museum since 1966.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Ulaanbaatar attractions

1. Freedom Square

0.25 MILES

In front of the Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs (the former Lenin Museum), Freedom Sq is UB's traditional gathering spot for political rallies and…

2. National Museum of Mongolia

0.27 MILES

Mongolia’s wonderful National Museum sweeps visitors from the Neolithic era right to the present day. It’s UB's only genuine blockbuster sight, offering…

3. Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs

0.28 MILES

Dinosaurs of all shapes, sizes and appetites once roamed the Gobi Desert. Their fossilised bones and eggs were first uncovered by American explorer Roy…

4. Mongolian Stock Exchange

0.32 MILES

The white colonnaded building to the southwest of Sükhbaatar Sq is the Mongolian Stock Exchange, which was opened in 1992 in the former Children's Cinema…

5. Stamp Museum

0.34 MILES

Well hidden within the Central Post Office, this small stamp museum covers Mongolia's history from 1924 to the current day. Of most interest are the…

6. Beatles Square

0.35 MILES

The plaza located between the State Department Store and the Circus has an unofficial name – Beatles Square, so named after the monument to the Fab Four…

7. Government House

0.35 MILES

Behind the Chinggis Khaan Statue in Sükhbaatar Square stands Government House. An inner courtyard of the building holds a large ceremonial ger used for…

8. Statue of S Zorig

0.36 MILES

Across from the Central Post Office (CPO) is a statue of S Zorig, who at the age of 27 helped to lead the protests that brought down communism in 1990 …