International Intellectual Museum
Khoroo 15, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Solving puzzles at the Mongolian Intellectual MuseumThis is the only photo we were allowed to take inside the museum. It took us a while to locate it admidst all the ongoing construction going on around it (plus it doesn't have the most obvious signage). However, it's quite remarkable once you find it. It’s a whole museum on the different games Mongolians play, focusing on brain teasers created by the founder of the museum, who started inventing these puzzles at the age of 10. When entering, we were given slip-on cloth covers over our shoes and directed to place our bags on shelves. Then, the tour guide, with remarkably good English, took us to each room, each section depicting a different type of game (brain teasers, chess, shadow puppets, cat’s cradle, sheepbone games, etc.) Even the furniture created to display the collection are brain teasers. Sometimes, our tour guide offered a brain teaser for us to solve within a short time, with a cash prize (in US dollars) if we succeed. We didn’t. It made me feel very dumb, fascinated but dumb. There was a whole nook dedicated to chess sets, not only chess sets from Mongolia, but collected from all around the world. Another room consisted of a motley mish-mash of toys from all over, some of which I had grown up with and had fond memories of. It’s truly amazing how much success one man with a singular passion and obsession can achieve, even if it’s something unique like puzzles. We left with a puzzle box and a new appreciation of brain teasers.