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.