20 years South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology: topics and figures

March 28, 2018 The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology will celebrate his 20th anniversary. Here, you can find press information for your personal research.

Bozen-Bolzano, March 16, 2018

20 years South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology

Topics and Figures

Discovery of Ötzi the Iceman mummy: September 19, 1991
Return from Innsbruck to Bozen-Bolzano: January 16, 1998
The Museum opens: March 28, 1998

A Museum of Archaeology in Bozen-Bolzano

The South Tyrol regional government took an inspired decision when it agreed to make the Iceman and his paraphernalia accessible to the public. The location chosen for the new Province museum of archaeology was the former Austro-Hungarian Bank in Bozen-Bolzano’s Museum Street, a building dating back to 1912 which had been taken over by the Banca d’Italia after the First World War.
Renovation work began in 1996 and on 28 March 1998, the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology was finally opened.

The Permanent Exhibition

The exhibits inside the building were displayed along a chronological spiral, beginning with the Palaeolithic (12,000 BCE) on the ground floor and leading up to the early Middle Ages on the top floor. The mummified body of the Iceman and the accompanying artefacts were chronologically arranged on the first floor of the museum.
Five years ago, in 2011, there was a special exhibition on Ötzi and this was the opportunity to add new exhibits detailing life in the Copper Age, and exploring other aspects surrounding the Iceman, such as research findings, the criminal investigation into the possible cause of his death, and cultural circumstances surrounding Ötzi. This was the Museum’s answer to the visitors’ increasing demand for information whilst at the same time giving more people the chance to visit the section dealing with the Iceman. The new permanent exhibition also presented a new exhibit, a reconstruction based on Ötzi’s anatomy created by the two artists in paleontological reconstructions Alfons and Adrie Kennis. Since then this reconstruction has shaped our perception of the Iceman.
The temporarily restricted exhibition area for the remaining discoveries from the ancient and early history of South Tyrol is no longer satisfactory. We are therefore in discussion about the possibility of moving to a larger building where we can display the entire exhibition complex of the Iceman together with the rest of South Tyrol’s archaeology.

A Museum is expanding

The Museum aims to attract a variety of groups: school groups, the local population, visitors from further afield and from abroad.
Over the past 20 years, the Museum has become a popular local meeting point (Long Night of the Museums, International Museum Day, Long Night of Research, the archaeology festival “Back to the Stone Age”…) Within the international panorama of archaeological museums, the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology has secured an outstanding position with a high level of awareness.
Ötzi and the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology represent the main cultural destination in adverts promoting tourism in South Tyrol abroad, attracting a great many visitors and are therefore a not insignificant economic factor.
In hindsight, the decision to house the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology within Bozen-Bolzano’s pedestrian precinct was a resounding success. Many holiday makers in South Tyrol enjoy popping into the museum whilst strolling through the capital of the Autonomous Province.

Changes to the Museum

In its 20 year history, the museum building has undergone a few “face-lifts” to make it more visitor-friendly: From the pedestrian precinct, the museum can be spotted from afar by its flags and columns. A screen at the entrance announces different exhibitions and gives a preview of the museum visit. The well-organised reception area with ticket counter welcomes new arrivals and offers people more space and plenty of seats.
Since December 2017 a new access system has allowed visitors to purchase tickets online with timed entry as well as at the traditional ticket counter. In this way, visitors are able to book a certain time slot for their visit and thus avoid possible lengthy queues. The shop has also had a make-over to make it more inviting. The museum was able to bring the management of the shop under its own control and is now offering archaeological books and specially designed gifts based on the exhibits.

Staff in the Museum

There are on average more than 260,000 annual visitors and they are looked after by an efficient team. We have 40 employees at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, working in the following areas: guided tours and warden duties, security, ticketing, shop, management, administration, accounts, general office, reservations, team organisation, marketing, media, target group care, museum agency, Human Resources, publicity, library, research, conservation, curating, setting up exhibitions, in-house technology, picture archive, event planning, visitors’ service, IT services, care of materials, lending of objects, data base services, compiling and editing publications…


The past 20 years have been dominated by working with many different target groups using individually tailored formats that have proved their worth over time: guided tours with questions and answers, workshops, educational events held within the museum, interactive stations and areas for young and old, where everyone can follow up what they have seen in the displays. In addition, visitors can tour the museum on their own with an interactive audio guide app, which can also be downloaded to their own smartphone.
All that the museum offers centres on its visitors, their well-being, their interests and their questions. We always start from the exhibited objects, these actual witnesses of the past, open to many possible interpretations. Instead of merely providing answers, we also try to elicit questions from our visitors. Making the visit personal, with visitors being able to touch and feel, and being fully involved, all this will make it an experience that will be firmly lodged in the memory and will impact their own lives.

Administrative history of the Museum

The Office for Listed Buildings oversaw the content development of the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology and its opening on March 28 1998. The Office for Archaeological Monuments of the independent Province of Bozen-Bolzano then took over the management of the museum with its then Director Lorenzo Dal Ri.
From 1999 it was then grouped together with the Museum of Nature South Tyrol which opened in 1999, also in Bozen-Bolzano, in the joint corporation “Archaeology and Nature Museum”. The director of both museums was the director of the Museum for Nature, Leo Unterholzner, and from 2000 until 2004 Alex Susanna.
In 2005, the corporation of the Archaeology and Nature Museum joined up with another 8 regional museums and formed the newly founded corporation “South Tyrol Regional Museums” with Othmar Parteli as Director and Bruno Hosp as President. Since 2005, Angelika Fleckinger has been managing the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.
In 2009, the corporation of the South Tyrol Regional Museum was, together with the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, transformed into the “Regional Museums Company” and joined in 2010 as an independent business the newly founded Department 42 “Museen-Musei” of the South Tyrol Province Administration. The Head of the Province Museums Company and Director of the Department for Museums is Karin Dalla Torre.

Special exhibitions

2016 – 2018: HEAVY METAL – How copper changed the world
2014 – 2016: FROZEN STORIES. Discoveries in the alpine glaciers
2013 – 2014: mysteriX. Mysterious discoveries from South Tyrol
2011 – 2013: Ötzi: Life. Science. Fiction. Reality
2009: MUMMIES. The dream of eternal life
2008: Skin marks. Tatooes and scarification
2007: Bow and arrow. From neolithic times until today
2006: Pictures from life. Musings on daily life in ancient times
2006: The secret of the cloud people. The Chachapoya in the Peruvian cloud forest
2005: Beauty from head to toe: grooming and personal care in Roman times
2003/2004: Our ancestors
2002: Gods‘ business
2002: Anagama. Experiments in ceramics
2000: Peppi Tischler Caricatures of the Iceman
1998: The Ice Man: reality – myth – cliché

Touring Exhibitions

Ötzi and his history has now become the topic of two touring exhibitions which were authorised by the Museum and which are showing all over the world. A third touring exhibition destined for the international market is in preparation.
25.01.2003 – 26.04.2003 Rome (Stazione Termini) Italy
01.10.2003 – 31.01.2004 Vienna (Naturhistorisches Museum) Austria
02.03.2004 – 27.06.2004 Hanover (Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum) Germany
24.09.2004 – 22.11.2004 Budapest (Vármúzeum) Hungary
19.03.2005 – 10.04.2005 Nagoya (Boston Museum of Fine Art) Japan
19.04.2005 – 08.05.2005 Toyohashi (Museum of Natural History) Japan
19.07.2005 – 30.10.2005 Assen (Drents Museum) Netherlands
15.11.2005 – 15.03.2006 Maaseik (Minderbroedersklooster) Belgium
08.04.2006 – 10.09.2006 Frankfurt (Archäologisches Museum) Germany
07.11.2006 – 25.03.2007 Vaduz (Liechtensteinisches Landesmuseum) Liechtenstein
05.04.2007 – 31.08.2007 Turin (Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali) Italy
05.10.2007 – 09.03.2008 Stockholm (Museum of National Antiquities) Switzerland
09.11.2007 – 04.05.2008 Sydney (Australian National Maritime Museum) Australia
01.04.2008 – 03.08.2008 Højbjerg (Moesgård Museum) Denmark
13.03.2009 – 28.06.2009 Bellinzona (Castelgrande Museum) Switzerland
17.06.2009 – 13.09.2009 Varberg (Halland Regional Museum) Sweden
17.07.2009 – 22.11.2009 Madrid (Museo arqueologico regional) Spain
01.04.2010 – 31.05.2010 Makhachkala Russia
01.06.2010 – 08.08.2010 Moscow Russia
03.09.2010 – 27.02.2011 Helsinki (Espoo City Museum) Finland
28.03.2011 – 24.07.2011 Valencia (Museu de prehistoria) Spain
05.08.2011 – 27.11.2011 Oslo (Historisk Museum) Norway
03.02.2012 – 30.09.2012 Barcelona (Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya) Spain
07.02.2014 – 31.08.2014 Munich (Archäologische Staatssammlung) Germany
24.10.2014 – 10.01.2016 Granada (Parque de las Ciencias) Spain
20.03.2014 – 29.11.2015 Mistelbach (MAMUZ Museum) Austria
23.03.2016 – 22.01.2017 Braunschweig (Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum) Germany
from 31.05.2018 Kerkrade (Continium) Netherlands

Representation at World Exhibitions

Ötzi and the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology were represented at the EXPOs in Hanover in 2000 and in Tokyo in 2006.

Congresses and conferences

Conferences giving details on the latest research results about the Iceman (1998, 2001 and 2016)
Death and the Museum (2000)
Exar – Experimental Archaeology (2005)

25 years of Ötzi

September 19 2016 was the 25th anniversary of Ötzi’s discovery. To celebrate this occasion, the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology held a reception at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology. Decision makers and companions from 25 years of research, conservation and administration toasted Ötzi, together with the discoverer Erika Simon, and with the contemporary witness Reinhold Messner. The Provincial Governor Arno Kompatscher elaborated on the many superlatives attributed to the Iceman and added his support for larger premises for the Museum. Actor Jürgen Vogel paid a visit hot foot from the Schnalstal where the feature film “Iceman” (“Der Mann aus dem Eis”) was being filmed at that time. The latest research endeavours and results were presented during the “3rd Bolzano Mummy congress – Ötzi: 25 years of research”, which the Museum had organised in collaboration with the then EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman (today EURAC Institute for Mummy Studies).


The top priority is the preservation of the Iceman. Conservation agent is Prof Dr Oliver Peschel, successor to Dr Eduard Egarter Vigl. Over the years, refining the cooling system has been a main topic of research, and this has meant that the museum – in close cooperation with the now renamed EURAC Institute for Mummy Studies – has been in great demand as a strategic partner for museums and exhibition venues dealing with mummies.
The research centring on the Iceman has in the past 20 years given rise to important contributions in scientific publications to do with archaeological and medical findings about Ötzi and the Copper Age: The cause of his death, the decoding of his DNA, facts about the food he eat and the way he lived, important research helping us to understand diseases which we still face today such as arthritis and cardiovascular disease, bacterial infections such as Helicobacter pylori, borreliosis (Lyme disease) and periodontosis (gum disease), his tattoos; all this and the investigations into Ötzi as a criminal case as well as information about the origin of his copper axe yielded results which found international recognition and were widely discussed within many different fields of research.
And even today, the anthropological Advisory Board for the Iceman, and the equivalent Board for archaeological matters, continue to receive new requests for research projects. Above all in the area of micro-biology new discoveries are expected over the next few years, and with measuring devices becoming ever more precise, scientists are bound to coax yet more secrets out of the Iceman and the times he lived in.

Ötzi’s fame

Every new publication of research findings on the Iceman is eagerly taken up by the media all over the world. While 20 years ago, a fax machine, telephone and photographs developed in the dark room were required for spreading news, this now happens in real time via the internet and social media digitally, covering the entire globe.
In the past, Ötzi owed his fame in part to cover stories and numerous substantial articles in daily or weekly newspapers and popular science magazines such as The New York Times, Time Magazine, GEO or National Geographic with its many national editions. National Geographic and the Discovery channel produced expensive international documentaries, all shot at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, which allowed millions of people all over the world to get to know the Iceman.
In the feature film “Iceman” (“Der Mann aus dem Eis”), a German-Austrian and South Tyrol co-production from 2017, directed by Felix Randau with Jürgen Vogel playing the title role, Ötzi will have reached the zenith of his fame so far. The film will be shown in North American cinemas from this spring.
A further fictional depiction, a film for families, “Ötzi e il mistero del tempo” (Ötzi and the Mystery of Time), shot inside the museum in spring 2017, is expected to be released this year to Italian audiences. The script was written by Carlo Longo and Manuela Cacciamani, the director was Davide Orsini and the main actor in the role of Ötzi was Michael Smiley.
Many famous international artists are aware of Ötzi’s importance: In 2007, Brad Pitt had Ötzi’s silhouette tattooed on his inner left forearm which caused people all over the world to try to find out who this “Iceman” was and to discover that the original could be seen in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bozen-Bolzano.
VIPs at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology


In 2011, the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology used the special exhibition Ötzi20 to present a new reconstruction of the Iceman. Based on one of the CT scans of the mummy, the two Dutch artists in paleontological reconstructions Alfons and Adrie Kennis fashioned a life-like figure which has since informed the image we now have of our ancestor from the Copper Age.
Also based on CT scans, a copy of the mummy of the Iceman was made in 2016 and was painted by the American paleontological artist Gary Staab. One copy is displayed exclusively in the DNA Learning Center of the New York Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a second one is due to travel around the world with the new touring exhibition.

Moments of sheer terror

…include reports of a fire or indeed any alarms, mostly false, that have been triggered for a variety of reasons. Luckily, there have not been any truly precarious situations so far. The professional fire fighters of the city of Bozen-Bolzano used documentation from the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology to draw up an Evacuation Schedule for Cultural Assets. A film was made, depicting the spectacular evacuation exercise of the mummy and the most valuable museum exhibits and this film is used today to train young fire fighters. The museum technician, Andrea Battagin, the museum’s security expert, will be detailing this in a talk to be given at the Fire Protection Fair “Civil Protect” in Bozen-Bolzano on 24 March 2018.

The museum is 20 years old – facts and figures please!

Visitors (since the opening on 28 March 1998 up to the end of March 2018): 5 million
more than 20,000 Facebook likes (up to Feb 2018)
Average score with visitors on Facebook: 4.5 out of 5 stars
„South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology“ as keyword/search term on Google.com: 317.000 results (March 2018), “Iceman Ötzi” 52.300 (March 2018)
Highest number of visitors to the website www.iceman.it on 19 September 2016 (25th anniversary of Ötzi’s discovery): 8,647 unique visitors.
More than 600,000 people have taken part in guided tours
Around 30,000 guided tours and workshops over 20 years, the equivalent of 3.4 years of non-stop interaction with visitors
Guided tours in 17 languages
Day with the highest number of visitors to the museum (usual opening times from 10:00 to 18:00) was 9 August 2013, with 1,802 visitors (the museum can accommodate 300 people on 1,400 m2)
750 km of admission tickets (approx. distance Bozen-Bolzano to Paris)
40 tonnes of leaflets
300,000 books sold
10,000 journalists visited the museum
1,000 interviews with museum staff
500 press releases
700 film and TV recordings

Museum education

The past 20 years have been dominated by working with many different target groups using individually tailored formats that have proved their worth over time: interactive guided tours, workshops, educational events, interactive stations and areas for young and old, where everyone can follow up what they have seen in the displays. In addition, visitors can tour the museum on their own with an interactive audio guide app, which can also be downloaded to their own smartphone.
All that the museum offers centres on its visitors, their well-being, their interests and their questions. We always start from the exhibited objects, these actual witnesses of the past, open to many possible interpretations. Instead of merely providing answers, we also try to elicit questions from our visitors. Making the visit personal, with visitors being able to touch and feel, and being fully involved, all this will make it an experience that will be firmly lodged in the memory and will impact their own lives.

New! The Lounge

Our celebrations to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology will focus on the visitors to the museum. With effect from March 23rd 2018, the entire third floor will be given over to individual creativity and personal enrichment. The Lounge is an area offering oases of peace as well as playful elements, facilitating both relaxation and reflection. Visitors spending time in The Lounge, either on their own or in company, can either relax or pursue their interests and bring their visit to a close in the way which suits them best.
Intellectual, social or emotional? Studies have shown that visitors bring along their own highly individualised approaches when they visit a museum and look at the exhibits. Whilst for some people a trip to a museum is primarily a social event, others see such places purely as opportunities for learning, while yet others care most about new emotions that they may encounter there. These three aspects are at the heart of what is on offer in the Lounge. In short there are endless possibilities, but there’s no compulsion!


Since 1999 the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology has been publishing a scientific series entitled “Schriften des Südtiroler Archäologiemuseums / Collana del Museo Archeologico dell’Alto Adige”. Volume 1 (1999), Volume 3 (2003) and 4 (2006) are entirely devoted to research findings about the Iceman and his preservation. Volume 2 was published in 2002 and summarises archaeological research from the area of Siebeneich/Moritzing. Volume 5, so far the last one, published in 2015, deals with archaeology in the Überetsch region.
Bestsellers from the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology are the popular science book, the compact handy guide to Ötzi [Angelika Fleckinger, Ötzi, der Mann aus dem Eis (Ötzi, the Iceman), Bozen/Vienna 7th edition 2014] and the illustrated children’s book Die Gletschermumie (The Glacier Mummy) [Gudrun Sulzenbacher, Die Gletschermumie. Mit Ötzi auf Entdeckungsreise durch die Jungsteinzeit (The Glacier Mummy, Discovering the Copper Age with the Iceman), Bozen/Wien 9th edition 2015]. Both of them were translated into several languages.

Archaeological research projects at the Museum

The research project “Leben am Wasser. Ressourcen, Technik und Mobilität im Mesolithikum am Beispiel der Fundstellen Galgenbühel in Salurn (Südtirol)“ (Living near the water: resources, technology and mobility in the Mesolithic based on the discoveries made at Galgenbühel/Dos de la Forca in Salurn/Salorno (South Tyrol)) was carried out in 2011-2014. The project leader was Ursula Wierer, who was in charge of the archaeological excavations at the Mesolithic site (around the end of the 8th/9th century BCE) on the side of the valley floor. The investigations were aimed principally at discovering the economic strategies of the nomadic hunter-gatherers who inhabited the area then.
The research project “Prähistorische Besiedlung und Ökonomie inneralpiner Hochtäler am Beispiel des Schnalstals (Südtirol)“ (Prehistoric settlement and economy in inner Alpine high valleys based on the Schnalstal/Val Senales (South Tyrol)) took place in 2013-2016. The research aim of project leader Andreas Putzer was to explore the influence of humans on the natural landscape of the side valleys of the Schnalstal. Several ritual sites and settlements connected to pasture farming in the high mountains were excavated. As a result of this research it can be concluded that humans – contrary to previous thinking – first intervened in the natural landscape of Schnals in the early Bronze Age (2nd century BCE).
Running since 2017 and continuing to 2019, the research project “Säben II. Die profanen Bauten der spätantiken Siedlung“ (Säben-Sabiona II. The secular buildings of the late antique settlement). The project leader is Hans Nothdurfter who led the research excavations (1978-82). The project is concentrating on the buildings of the settlement and their function. Several dwellings from the late fourth to early sixth century are being investigated. In addition to the archaeological assessment, scientific investigations are also planned.
Two research projects were initiated for the “3rd Bolzano Mummy congress – Ötzi: 25 years of research”, 19-21 September 2016. The first determined the origin of the copper used to make Ötzi’s axe. This was undertaken along with a research team from Padua led by Gilberto Artioli and was able to show that the copper came from Southern Tuscany.
The second subjected the Iceman’s flint tools to a new investigation by a research team led by Ursula Wierer. The results are due to be published this year (2018).
Finally, the research project “Studi sulla circolazione del rame ai tempi di Ötzi. L’ascia dell’Uomo venuto dal ghiaccio e il contesto archeometallurgico di asce di rame dell’area centro-alpina e della penisola italiana” (Studies into the circulation of copper in the time of Ötzi. The Iceman’s axe and the archaeo-metallurgical context of copper axes from the central Alpine area and the Italian peninsula), led by Günther Kaufmann and Gilberto Artioli, will start this year, in 2018. It will have two research aims: to trace the development of copper metallurgy and the use of copper resources in South Tyrol in the course of the Copper Age (end of the fourth and the third century BCE); and to determine the locations of manufacture of the trapezoidal flanged axes of the Copper Age.

Building Services

The best designed building is one where the technology is never obvious, but everything works without a hitch. Fortunately, over the course of the last 20 years, the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology has never had to be closed because of technical problems. There were at times some minor faults or incidents, but they could always be corrected without any palpable effect on the operation of the museum. Day-to-day as well as scheduled maintenance of all technical installations and replacement of potentially unreliable equipment have ensured that the technical installations remain in a satisfactory condition despite 20 years of stalwart service.

Our visitors

The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology is not a major institution, but visitors come from all continents. In 2017, people from nearly all European countries visited the Museum: Germany: 42%; Italy not including South Tyrol: 30%; South Tyrol: 5%; Austria 6%; rest of Europe: 11%; rest of the world: 6%.
Since its opening on 28 march 1998, the museum has been visited by 5 million people; in 2017 by 286.972 visitors.

Numbers of visitors:

1998: 245.000 2003: 228.000 2008: 227.705 2013: 252.462
1999: 256.000 2004: 248.074 2009: 231.040 (open 11 months) 2014: 245.397
2000: 277.000 2005: 226.705 2010: 229.456 2015: 253.704
2001: 258.000 2006: 225.479 2011: 265.459 2016: 275.226
2002: 255.000 2007: 221.958 2012: 257.431 2017: 286.972

The economic importance of the museum

The Iceman is one of the internationally most well-known personalities from South Tyrol. There is no denying that this means that Ötzi and the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology have an impact on the economy of South Tyrol which should not be underestimated, but which is not easily measured. The overwhelming majority of the visitors to the museum (95%) are not from South Tyrol, but are tourists. A large number of them have not come to the regional capital for a holiday, but are day-trippers to Bozen-Bolzano, enjoying a perfect mix of sightseeing, shopping and local specialities. And of course to visit Ötzi in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology. This mixture of activities has an economic ripple effect: South Tyrol scores as a holiday destination with its attractive museums, and the many people who come to Bozen-Bolzano have a positive influence on the creation of added value and on the tourist facilities and services on offer.


Press contact:
Katharina Hersel
Museumstr. 43, I-39100 Bozen-Bolzano, Italy,
T +39 0471 320114,
F +39 0471 320122,
Mail: [email protected]
www.iceman.it; Facebook: OetziTheIceman

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