The Ötzi exhibit at the Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm

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.

Ötzis clothes

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.

Ötzi, display with different materials

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.

Tattoos of Ötzi

Ötzis 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.

Ötzis Axe 

Ötzis axe

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.

Ötzi replica

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.

Magnus Reuterdahl


About Magnus Reuterdahl

I am an archaeologist/Osteologist from Sweden. My main intrest lays in north Euorpean archaeology in, preferbly the prehistory of the late iron age and the neolithic periods. I've also got a strong intrest for Chinese archaeology, especially the neolithc Yangshao culture. I also write about cultural heritage and cultural history. Mitt namn är Magnus Reuterdahl, jag är arkeolog och osteolog och arbetar företrädesvis i Sverige även om jag gjort ett par vändor till Kina. På den här bloggen skriver jag om mitt yrke, om fornlämningar, kulturarv och kulturhistoria m m. View all posts by Magnus Reuterdahl

3 responses to “The Ötzi exhibit at the Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm

  • Go visit the Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm on Thursday! « Testimony of the spade

    […] Go visit the Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm on Thursday! If you are in Stockholm tomorrow go visit the new exhibit “Forntider 2″ (Ancient times part two) as it premiers on then, on Thursday the 8th November, at the Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm.I have high expectations on this exhibit as I thought part one is very good. More info is availible at their website and in this post. […]

  • Glenn Eriksen


    Jeg har lenge lett etter et gode skisser av Oetzi’s klær, og da jakken han hadde under gresskappen. Vet det er tegnet noen skisser på museet i Tyrol, men har du noe mer kjennskap til disse klærne? Skisser/tegninger hadde vært flott!

    • Magnus Reuterdahl

      Hej Glenn kul att du hittat hit. Jag har själv inte studerat kläderna särskilt ingående förutom att ha läst några artiklar och böcker om Ötzi mer generellt och sett ett par utställningar, dock ännu inte den på museet i Tyrol även om det vore kul. Svenska Populär Historia hade en artikel, se länk nedan, som jag tror var illustrerad i pappersutgåvan, texten finns dock där.

      The Glacier Mummy – Discovering the Neolithic Age with the Iceman av Gudrun Sulzenbacher 2005 eller 2006 innehåller en hel del illustrationer och bilder, om jag minns rätt är den dock ganska populärvetenskaplig, det är ett par år sedan jag tittade igenom den så se om du kan låna den från något bibliotek. Annars borde Goedecker-Ciolek, Roswitha. Konservierung der Beifunde einer Gletschermumie vom Ende der Steinzeit I – Bekleidung. Arbeitsblätter für Restauratoren 2/94 kunna vara av intresse (OBS har inte läst denna själv).


%d bloggers like this: