Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann
A journey through time discovering the evolution of man
How did Neanderthals live in NRW? Which tools did they produce? And what did they eat? The Neanderthal museum gives answers to these questions. Human development is the centre of the permanent exhibition of this house.
Visitors to the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann embark upon a journey through time discovering the evolution of man. In 1856 the fossilised remains of a Neanderthal were found in the nearby town of Mettmann, where the museum now stands. According to the latest findings, this Neanderthal, or prehistoric man, must have lived in the Neander Valley some 42,000 years ago.
Founded in 1996, the Neanderthal Museum’s exhibits include the eponymous skeleton from 1856 as well as finds from more recent excavations at the Neander Valley site. A colossal “Workbench of inventions” shows milestones of human ingenuity from flint to the fuel cell. The interactive permanent exhibition also contains five themed areas offering a chronological overview of the history of humanity and narrow the focus of this complex topic: “Life and Survival”, “Tools and Knowledge”, “Myth and Religion”, “Environment and Diet” and “Communication and Society”.
Another attraction that is particularly exciting for children is the Stone Age Workshop, where young craftspeople can try their hand at making tools just as our prehistoric ancestors once did. They can sew with bone needles, make knives with flint blades, craft bows and arrows, and closely examine casts of human bone and famous fossil discoveries.
The “Menschenspuren” (Human Traces) art trail may be of greater interest to adult visitors to the museum. It follows a path that starts directly at the museum and wends its way around the Düssel, giving visitors a view of ten sculptures by various artists. Children, meanwhile, can visit prehistoric animals at the game reserve adjacent to the art trail. The reserve is home to bison, aurochs and tarpan (wild horses) – all re-established breeds of ice age animals that died out hundreds of years ago. There is also a great deal to discover outside the museum building: not far from the museum is the Neanderthal discovery site. The Feldhof cave itself was lost forever due to limestone quarrying. Today the site where the most famous prehistoric Germans were discovered is staged as an archaeological garden. Stone crosses, a time axis, alignment stakes and stone pallets are combined with the topography of the site to give an account of the changing history of the valley.