The new exhibition presents 1221 objects within a contemporary space of 600 m2. It was opened in September 2009 and is located in a new building by BWM Architekten. The museum’s architecture echoes the forms of the adjacent building, a multiple prize-winning design by PURPUR which houses the Lapidarium, a collection of Roman inscriptions and reliefs.
The architecture with its light wells is especially suitable for activities aimed at children and teenagers, and we are also able to demonstrate work in progress by presenting specific groups of objects while archaeological processing is under way.
The highlights of the exhibition are world-famous objects of the Hallstatt period, in particular the Cult Wagon of Strettweg, the Mask of Kleinklein and ostentatious vessels from the princely burials of Großklein and Strettweg. For the new museum we were able to acquire the most precious Roman find made in the province of Styria, a silver relief goblet (‘Silberbecher’) discovered at Grünau. This acquisition was financed by the Joanneum Fund.
The curators intended to create a museum that gets under your skin, a museum which offers something for everybody with a general interest in human beings, their daily lives, their means of expression, religious practices and social conditions.
The exhibits represent many different periods and places; but rather than focusing on historical and cultural context, the exhibition tackles specific themes diachronically, allowing visitors to ponder the objects as timeless archetypes of basic human needs. The museum therefore extends an invitation to consider these artefacts as individual attempts to approach profound and universal questions about what it means to be human. Recorded interviews with prominent Austrians offer inspiration for further reflection.
The archaeological museum is also designed to show just how limited and fragmentary our knowledge of the past really is: many questions simply have to remain unanswered. The label for each object records only the verifiable facts: this helps to emphasise the distinction between covert conjecture and secure knowledge. If visitors require additional information, they can use the provided computer terminal to submit questions to the curators.
The archaeological museum was designed as a place of continuous communication, not only between visitors and experts, but also among visitors themselves.