Further along, the basement opens up to the ‘Hall of Mountains’, which begins with posters of the 14 peaks above 8000m, displayed according to height. The posters, the kind one would perhaps find hung on a travel agent’s office, are offset by the personal accounts and excerpts from mountaineers that accompany the photos.
‘On the narrow range, we held hands and exultation, then the surface beneath our feet began to crumble and seemed likely to break away, so I straddled the ridge like a horse,’ reads Toshio Imanishi’s account of his Manaslu ascent.
A few feet away lay rocks of varied shapes, sizes, and kinds collected from Palpa, Kaski, Syangja, and Nuwakot. Labelled and caged in glass, their ages range from 2.5 million to 570 million years, and the historical implications may cause a minor existential crisis if one were to stop and contemplate.
At the mountain ecology section, simple posters—the kind that one would find taped to the walls of Nepali classrooms, display the flora and fauna. The gallery also has a few taxidermy animals– disconcerting because the gallery is on the side of the building where the natural light does not reach– and a butterfly exhibit.
Indeed, the museum is a study in contrasts, and different parts of the exhibit inspire different feelings. Some exhibits, like the Yeti display and the photograph of the Yeti footprint, play into the legend surrounding Nepal’s mountains, while flex banners of Nepal’s mountain ecosystem lie a few feet away. All at once, a sightseeing expedition becomes a school trip.