Below you will find an overview of our projects in Germany:

DOORS: Digital Audience Research in the Neander Valley

In the project "Experience the Ice Age Digitally", our museum developed a digital journey of discovery into the Ice Age together with visitors, non-visitors and external project partners from the Ice Age Europe Network. Together with the Vogelherd site, the Prehistoric Museum Blaubeuren and the Chair of Museology at the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg, a playful digital application called "Eiszeitwelten / Ice Age Worlds" was created in a participatory manner. The unique selling point of the project was the focus on the wishes and needs of the end users.

The Kultur.Gemeinschaften project was made possible thanks to support from the "NEUSTART.KULTUR" funding programme. At the beginning of June 2023, the new mobile game for mobile devices was published in the popular app stores (Google Play, App Store).

Former project manager: Rick M. Springer
Contact person: Anna Riethus

DOORS: Digital Audience Research in the Neander Valley

With funding from the EU project "DOORS" (Digital incubator fOR muSeums)", Rick Springer researched digital museum offerings and their use by visitors as well as non-visitors.

Since the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic at the end of 2019, many museums across Europe have developed new digital offerings.

However, in order to provide sustainable and successful digital offerings, museums must first take a step back and assess the needs of their potential users.

With the support of The Audience Agency, Springer reassessed existing digital offerings and analysed digital users and their motivations.

In addition, the motivation and wishes of visitors and non-visitors were recorded, from which criteria for sustainable and stimulating digital offers were subsequently identified.

Our DOORS project addressed the following research questions:

  • What is the core motivation of users of digital offerings in museums?
  • What prevents non-users from accessing existing digital offerings?
  • What motivates non-users to use digital services offered by other providers/institutions?
  • Are users satisfied with existing digital services?
  • Are users able to find the right digital offers for their needs in our product range?
  • What would users and non-users like to change about our digital offerings?

The Neanderthal Museum is part of the DOORS - Digital Incubator of Museums network.

This research was initiated in the course of DOORS by Ars Electronica, Museum Booster and the Ecsite network.

DOORS is made possible with funding from the EU's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 101036071.

NMsee: Playful inclusion at the museum

The project "NMsee" (2019-2021) is developing an inclusive mobile game that offers a new museum experience to guests with and without visual impairments.

The mobile game takes guests on a journey into the Ice Age and is based on so-called "audio games" such as "Sound of Magic" or "The Nightjar". For guests with visual impairments, the barrier-free game offers, among other things, an indoor navigation function. The museum is also installing new tactile exhibits, tactile signs and a floor guidance system in the permanent exhibition.

In cooperation with the BSV Nordrhein e.V. the mobile game is developed interactively and continuously tested with people affected. The game release is planned for spring 2021, depending on the development of the COVID pandemic.

In the final year 2021 a report about the evaluation results and the development work in the project will be published. NMsee is also accompanied by the dissertation of the project leader at the University of Heidelberg (History Department, Public History).

Updates on the project can be found via Twitter, on the museum blog and on the social media channels of the Neanderthal Museum.

Scientific Project Manager:
Anna Riethus, MA
Staff member of BSVN e.V.

NMsee is made possible by:
Stiftung Wohlfahrtspflege, Kämpgen Stiftung

The new accessible infrastructure is made possible by:
NRW-Stiftung, LVR

More new tactile exhibits are made possible by:
Aktion Mensch

The inclusive mobile game and the new infrastructure will be implemented with the following companies:
Wegesrand GmbH und Co KG
Monokel - Films, Games, Transmedia
Inkl. Design

Find further information here.

Mäander Cave & Co.

So far there have been no caves discovered in Germany that contain convincing evidence of the presence of Ice Age cave art. The Neanderthal Museum has been active in research in French and Spanish caves for many years, has an impressive photographic collection of Ice Age art courtesy of the work of Heinrich Wendel, and is in contact with German cave research groups. For these reasons, the Neanderthal Museum is the first point of contact for those who have questions about this subject. All of the supposed discoveries of cave art in Germany have one thing in common: not one of the locations in question contains a convincing, easily recognisable motif. In every case the evidence consists of no more than residues and remains, the origins of which are unclear, and for which creation by humans is only one of many possibilities. So far it seems as if, although caves in Germany were unquestionable sought after by Ice Age hunters, they served a different purpose to that of caves in France and Spain.

Find further information here

Stone Age Sites in the Neander Area

The Feldhofer Cave is world-renowned as the discovery site of Neanderthals. Excavations in 1997 and 2000 by the Rhineland Department of Archaeological and Natural Heritage yielded, along with human bones, stone artefacts and the remains of prey animals. These finds, together with the knowledge gained from other Neanderthal find sites in central Europe, lead us to believe that the gentle hills and low valleys of the Neander area were an ideal location for Neanderthals to live. There are many Neanderthal sites from the late Stone Age which correspond to this view. There are, however, none from the final stages of the Ice Age. Through systematic surveying and regular mapping of sites, our knowledge should be continuously improved.

Since 2003, in cooperation with the Rhineland Department of Archaeological and Natural Heritage in Overath, the Neanderthal museum has overseen the volunteer heritage workers throughout the region in matters to do with the Stone Age. Through theoretical and practical instruction, the recognition and identification of stone artefacts and other skills are imparted. New finds, in particular, are intensively discussed. This is a basic prerequisite for the future discovery of other Ice Age sites. Since 2010, the Neanderthal Museum has held a quarterly 'Artefact Identification Day' and, with luck, this may yield Neanderthal artefacts.

Technological Knowledge in the late Middle Palaeolithic and Early Upper Palaeolithic

Project completed

The period between 40,000 and 35,000 years ago is an extremely interesting one for archaeological researchers, and one with many unanswered questions. Time and again the media focuses on the human fossils from this period: Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans. These rare fossils are not, however, the only available sources of information; the analysis of stone artefact technology is a consistent source of insights into the behaviour of our ancestors. The reason for this is the degree of planning necessary to effectively work stone. This depth of planning can be, in large part, reconstructed. The Neanderthal Museum concentrates its work on the analysis, using the latest methods, of important sites from the period of the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition, without necessarily carrying out the excavations itself. Among these sites are Salzgitter-Lebenstedt (Lower Saxony), Balver Cave, and Lommersum (both in NRW).


Technological Knowledge in the late Middle Palaeolithic and Early Upper Palaeolithic

Pastoors, Andreas (1998): Nouveau regard sur un site paléolithique moyen de plein air: Salzgitter-Lebenstedt (RFA). In: L'Anthropologie 102 (4), S. 523-532.

Pastoors, Andreas (2001): Die mittelpaläolithische Freilandstation von Salzgitter-Lebenstedt. Genese der Fundstelle und Systematik der Steinbearbeitung. Braunschweig: Ruth Printmedien (Salzgitter Forschungen, 3).

Pastoors, Andreas (2009): Blades ? - Thanks, no interest ! Neanderthals in Salzgitter-Lebenstedt. In: Quartär 56, S. 105-118.

Pastoors, Andreas; Schäfer, Joachim (1999): Analyse des états techniques de transformation, d'utilisation et états post dépositionnels. Illustrée par un outil bifacial de Salzgitter-Lebenstedt (FRG). In: Préhistoire Européenne 14, S. 33-47.

Pastoors, Andreas; Tafelmaier, Yvonne (2010): Bladelet production, core reduction strategies, and efficiency of core configuration at the Middle Palaeolithic site Balver Höhle (North Rhine Westphalia, Germany). In: Quartär 57, S. 25-41.

Pastoors, Andreas; Tafelmaier, Yvonne (2012): What about flakes? - Flake production, core reduction strategies in the Aurignacian of the Rhineland: Lommersum IIc (North Rhine Westphalia) and Wildscheuer III (Hessen). In: Andreas Pastoors und Marco Peresani (Hg.): Flakes not blades. The role of flake production at the onset of the Upper Palaeolithic in Europe. Mettmann: Neanderthal Museum (Wissenschaftliche Schriften des Neanderthal Museums, 5), S. 165-180.

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