Tag Archives: exhibition

On display – Inca gold (?)

Today I’ll visit the exhibition Inca gold – treasures in the vault, an exhibition by Världskulturmuseerna (the museums of world culture) on display in Stockholm September 10th 2011– February 12th 2012.

The exhibition is on archaeological finds from South America, for example from the Incas and earlier Peruvian cultures, and tells the tale on the search for El Dorado, the golden land, and the Spanish conquest of the Incas.

About 300 objects from 15 Peruvian museums are on display. The objects are from the Incas and the cultures preceding them, the oldest from ca 2000 BC and then reaching to the 1530s AD. Besides gold there are also textiles, ceramics and mummies on display.

Not all are pleased with the exhibit, one disgruntled visitor filed a complaint to the National Consumer Agency, according towww.dagensmedia.se he said :

…an exhibition called the Inca gold. The problem is that , as far as I could see, when visiting yesterday, is that only two objects made of gold where from the Incas (though he says he might have missed yet another). All other objects were from other Peruvian cultures…

We’ll see what I think when I’ve seen it. Now I have:

There wasn’t much Inca gold but lots of interesting objects and stories. For most parts I liked this exhibit, though South American prehistory isn’t my forte it seemed a good introduction – with nice finds, good texts and a well balanced exhibit, though a bit expensive (ca 16 €). On a whole its a good exhibit well worth a visit!

I like an exhibit when I feel I learned something – and that I did. On the minus side is a few question marks – I would have liked a culture explanation on the pre-Inca cultures earlier and a more consequent mentioning on that in the info texts. Regarding the info signs for the finds – they’re often confusing and difficult to find in regards to objects.

Especially two things concerned me – first an information sign concerning Hjalmar Stolpe, a Swedish archaeologist/ethnographic (1841-1905). A picture shows him with his associates and co-workers at a South American expedition – together with finds and three craniums. It is very possible that I’ve handled one or all of them at the Osteological research laboratory in Stockholm at one time or another – but no mention is made on that material being brought to Sweden or the question regarding handling human remains, brought to at the time and being kept in Sweden currently. As much focus are on the Spanish invasion and the consequeses of that less so are focused on the late 19th and early 20th century “collectors”/researchers such as Stolpe, though they are mentioned. The next are two mummies, if I understand correctly collected by Stolpe, that are on display – they work within the exhibit and don’t feel off – but I wish there would have been a larger focus on why they are there, on the thoughts on displaying mummies and perhaps also a discussion if they should be shown at all. I don’t say they shouldn’t be but it would have been interesting with a discussion concerning that instead of questions on gold and how we look on gold today.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Magnus Reuterdahl


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


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