According to the latest studies, the Neanderthals were more than just primitive, club-wielding savages – nevertheless, some people continue to use this word as an insult. Since the major scientific revolution sparked by the discovery of Neanderthal bones in 1856, we have gained significant knowledge about our closest human relatives.
Today, the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann is located just a few hundred metres from the place where the fossils were discovered. It hosts an exhibition on our prehistoric ancestors and the history of humankind. Using exhibits and media stations to form an experience, ART+COM has designed and created a path running from the museum to the site of the find and the recently built viewing tower.
You can see the “Cave View” tower marking the place of discovery from far away. The famous Neanderthal man found his final resting place in a cave called “Kleine Feldhofer Grotte”. The cave no longer exists, but the top section of the tower is level with its probable location. The Neandertal valley was originally adorned with steep cliffs, caves and waterfalls. However, these features were destroyed by limestone mining in the 19th century. ART+COM has brought that landscape back to life by setting up AR telescopes at the top of the tower. If you point the telescopes towards the opposite bank of the river Düssel, detailed 3D scenes of Neanderthal life, hunting and the animal world will appear before your eyes. We took scientific reconstructions as a reference point when modelling the ice-age scenery that you explore through the telescopes.
Full-size replicas of the 16 skeleton pieces found at the site are another highlight among the exhibits. A 3D scene depicting the burial ritual used by the Neanderthals provides an emotional insight into the life and death of the prehistoric inhabitants.
Numerous audio stations also tell visitors how the valley itself has changed immensely over the ages. Along the path to the findspot and inside the viewing tower, you can listen to vivid accounts of various historical events at the site and the people involved.
Copyright notice for photos: with kind permission from the Neanderthal Museum