A few days ago I visited the temporary exhibition Ötzi the iceman (Swedish link) from the Alps at the Museum of National Antiquities (Statens Historiska museum) in Stockholm. The exhibition started October the 5th.
The Ötzi find in the Alps 1991 is one of the most exciting finds from the Stone Age and a find that has brought a lot of new info regarding that Age in that region. More than anything Ötzi has given a face and a personal touch to Stone Age man. The find was made at the boarder between Austria and Italy, in the end it was concluded that he was found in Italy. For myself I don’t really give a damn, this is a find that belongs to humankind not a particular country, this is what should be a world heritage and not a petty fight amongst scientist or countries that did not exist when Ötzi died. Today Ötzi and his belongings are to be found at the archaeological museum of Bolzano.
Replica of Ötzis clothes.
Back to exhibition, it has its flaws and highlights. I am probably not the right visitor for this, though I enjoyed parts of it. I begin with what I liked; It has a clear storyline, from the find to analysis to results. There is also information regarding media coverage etc. This exhibit is a summary of the present knowledge regarding Ötzi. The replicas are all nicely made and they are in most cases visible and easy to access. I liked the part where different objects were open for grabs, so to speak, a display with different materials; Hides, trees, stones etc. of witch Ötzis personal affects where made. This gives an extra dimension.
A touchable display with different materials
Many of the photos are great, especially the pictures that are produced in scale 1:1; for example those of the tattoos.
Overall the exhibition feels a bit clinical for my taste, as if in a laboratory. Besides this I miss pictures of the actual artefacts together with the “replicas” as they don’t seem to be exact replicas but interpretations. As I wrote earlier most objects are displayed well, though I would like a different angel on the copper axe so that it more easily could be studied.
I didn’t quite get what the Ötzi in the ice replica is supposed to tell us, it just seems odd and out of place to me.
The Ötzi in the ice replica
All in all I liked the exhibition, it is nicely sized and there is a lot of information for those that has not followed the scientific discussion regarding Ötzi. Personally I would have liked a little more spirit and edge in the exhibition, though I am aware that I am not the typical visitor. At the exhibit one should be able to watch Ötzi by a webcam. I missed this feature, probably due to the vast amount of people window shopping for info of Ötzi at the same time as I.
A little information about the coming attraction at the museum:
In November the second part of the new “permanent” exhibition regarding prehistory is opening. I really liked the first part (in swedish but some pictures) that opened a year ago or so; it is thematic and based on several famous finds from different periods. It takes you from the Stone Age onto and through the Iron Age. In my point of view it is very well produced as a platform for pedagogic guide tours, and it is very neatly designed to wake an interest for archaeology and prehistoric times. If you haven’t visited it I recommend it.
In the new part of the exhibition, the museum will showcase ca 3500 artefacts, it will be thematic though not from a chronological point of view, there will also be spaces in which one can sit down and reflect or read more in depth information about archaeology, prehistory etc. There will also be some kind of interactive part directed to children and families. I think it sounds exciting and I hope it will as good as part one.