In Altanbulag soum in Selenge Aimag, up on the border between Mongolia and Russia, is the Sukhbaatar Museum. It is not a large museum but is significant as this part of Mongolia is where Sukhbaatar fought and defeated Chinese forces back in the 1920s, during the war that won Mongolia its independence. Just on the other side of the border is the Russian town of Kyakhta and between there and Altanbulag is a border crossing. The Mongolian government has also set aside an area here as a free trade zone to try and improve and expidite trade with Russia. Kyakhta and Altanbulag are also significant as the location of talks in 1915 between the Russian, Chinese and Mongolian governments resulting is a treaty giving Mongolia a degree of Autonomy. This lasted until 1919 when the Chinese revoked the agreement which in turn led to the Chinese invasion of Mongolia and the later struggles for independence by the Mongolians.
So, back to the museum. It is a museum devoted to Sukhbaatar and the 1921 Independence War although it does contain other exhibits. The day my favourite Mongolian family took me there was the day the tour guide was on holiday so the young lady that sold the tickets escorted us around the museum and explained the exhibits.
The exhibits include a diorama of the area showing Sukhbaatar’s struggles with the Chinese. There are some old weapons of the time, including a couple of wonderful old machine guns. Unfortunately I was not permitted to photograph inside the museum. Also on display are some uniforms worn by the Mongolian troops of the time as well as a number of paintings and the furniture from Sukhbaatar’s office.
Upstairs is an heroic statue with Sukhbaatar and Lenin meeting. Also upstairs are some paleantological exhibits (old bones, including part of the front tooth of a Sabre-Toothed Cat (Sabre Tooth Tiger)), archeological finds from the area and some anthropological exhibits showing how Mongolians lived 100 years ago or so.
The museum is inexpensive to visit and worth the look. If you have made the effort to go to Selenge Aimag, Sukhbaatar Aimag Centre, then you may as well travel the few extra kilometres to the border and visit the museum.
Oh, the cannon picture included on this blog was the barrel from one of the cannons used during the 1921 War of Independence (and yes, they are Thomo’s toes in the picture as well).