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A look back at our special exhibitions

Stonehenge - from people and landscapes

23. September 2021 till 25. September 2022

Stonehenge is the monumental pinnacle of prehistoric architecture and engineering, but Stonehenge is not isolated. It is part of a ritual landscape with thousands of years of history and parallels across Europe that are tangible even in our region. The exhibition was the first to reflect on the shaping of this cultural landscape by man and to contrast it with developments in Westphalia and the Ruhr region at the same time. 
The inner stone circle of Europe's most famous archaeological monument was reconstructed true to detail as a 1:1 reconstruction. Together with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology (LBI ArchPro), the latest research results on the history of the stone circle and the surrounding landscape were presented.

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Plakatmotiv der Sonderausstellung Stonehenge vom 23.09.2021 bis 25.09.22 (Grafik/Bild: Oktober, Getty Images)


20. September 2019 till 2. November 2020

From the Stone Age to late antiquity and from the "Black Death" of the Middle Ages to the most recent outbreak on Madagascar: the plague is a disease that has accompanied mankind through all periods of its history and still does. Around the globe, it claimed millions of victims and led to profound changes in society as a result. The exhibition discussed the history of the plague in its global impact. The German-speaking area and other affected regions of Europe and the world were presented.

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Schlüsselbild der Sonderausstellung zur Pest vom 20.09.2019 bis 02.11.2020 im LWL-Museum für Archäologie in Herne (Bild: LWL/O. Kalus)

Errors and forgeries in archaeology

23. March till 9. September 2018

To err is human - even respected scientists are not spared! The special exhibition corrected popular but outdated theories about past epochs and uncovered spectacular cases of fraud in archaeology. The visitors not only learned why an error or a forgery could be convincing in the beginning. Interactive offers also conveyed the gains in knowledge that research has achieved in the meantime. And as an introduction, a humorous production showed how archaeologists of the future could judge our time.

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Plakat zur Sonderausstellung: Irrtümer und Fälschungen vom 23.03.-09.09.2018 im LWL-Museum für Archäologie in Herne

REVOLUTION Neolithic Age

24. May till 22. October 2017

From May to October 2017, the State Archaeological Exhibition presented one of the most fascinating epochs in human history and explained the use of state-of-the-art methods in archaeology.
For 2.5 million years, humans lived as hunter-gatherers. With the end of the last ice age, however, a fundamental change took place: humanity became sedentary and began to practise agriculture and animal husbandry. This Neolithic revolution is even more significant for human history than the industrial revolution of the 19th century.

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Plakat zur Archäologische Landesausstellung: Revolution JungSteinzeit vom 24.05. bis 22.10.2017 im LWL-Museum in Herne (Bild: LWL/Klein und Neumann)

Treasures of Vietnam's archaeology

7. October 2016 till 26. February 2017

Until 26 February 2017, the LWL Museum of Archaeology showed cultural treasures from one of the most fascinating countries in Southeast Asia: Vietnam. For the first time in Germany, their most precious objects were on display - from huge bronze drums to cult utensils and jewellery to the terracotta sculptures of the first imperial palace "Thang Long", which was included in the World Heritage List in 2010. The patronage of this exhibition project has been assumed by the German Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier. After the premiere in Herne, the exhibition was shown in Chemnitz and in Mannheim.

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Plakat zur Sonderausstellung: Schätze der Archäologie Vietnams vom 07.10.2016 bis 26.02.2017 im LWL-Museum für Archäologie in Herne (LWL/O. Kalus)

Wild Westphalia. Animal photos and finds

1. November 2015 till 29. May 2016

"Watch out, there's a mammoth!" echoed through Westphalia thousands of years ago. Because Westphalia was and still is "animal wild". Today we meet neither mammoth nor cave bear, but there are wild boar, badgers and polecats as well as a wide variety of bird species. The diversity of the animal world in Westphalia can be explained by the wide variety of habitats and the temperate climate. In addition to cities, which are home to numerous birds and small animals, mountainous countryside, wetlands and woodlands provide a home for diverse animal species. The exhibition "Wild Westphalia" combines archaeological traces, such as tools made from animal bones or representations of animals, with excellent nature photographs taken by the nature photography group of NABU Herne. The result is an exciting look at the animal world of Westphalia in the past and today.

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Plakat zur Sonderausstellung: Wildes Westfalen vom 01.11.2015 bis 29.05.2016 im LWL-Museum für Archäologie in Herne (Bild: LWL/O. Kalus)

Faith or Superstition. Art meets archaeological finds

17. May till 1. November 2015

The subject of faith has always been present. Questions about this world and the hereafter, about the powers of nature or the will of the gods have moved and frightened people from the very beginning and motivated them to act accordingly. In this context, art and faith are closely connected. The artists Ines Braun and Iris Stephan presented more than 200 art objects and established an extraordinary connection to the archaeological finds of the museum, many of which are thousands of years old. "Is it faith or superstition?": This exciting question was the focus of the special exhibition. It is about alchemy and mythical creatures, about relics, death rituals, oracles and magic. In addition, an artist's workshop offered the opportunity to approach the topic creatively.

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Plakat zur Sonderausstellung: Aberglaube - Kunst trifft archäologische Funde vom 17.05. bis 01.11.2015 im LWL-Museum für Archäologie in Herne

The white gold of the Celts. Treasures from the salt

23. August 2014 till 22. February 2015

Salt is a vital raw material and an indispensable ingredient in the preparation of our food. For a long time, the white gold was a luxury good. Only in the 19th and 20th centuries did it become an everyday product. For almost 7000 years, this precious treasure has attracted people to a valley high above Lake Hallstatt. Around 850 BC, the Celts who settled there systematically mined the salt and came to immense wealth. In 1846 Hallstatt became world-famous through an extraordinary archaeological find: the discovery of a prehistoric burial ground that was bursting with luxury.
More than 250 objects from the world-famous collection of the Natural History Museum in Vienna, some of which had never been seen in Germany before, brought the beginnings of the world's oldest mine still in operation back to life in this spectacular special exhibition.

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Plakat zur Sonderausstellung: Das weiße Gold der Kelten vom 23.08.2014 bis 22.02.2015 im LWL-Museum für Archäologie in Herne.

URUK. 5000 Years of a Megacity

3. November 2013 till 21. April 2014

Uruk, today's Warka in the south of Iraq, was humankind'S first large city. As early as 5000 years ago, it produced many of the things we know from today's metropolises: Irrigation systems, intensive trade, cultural exchange and - after the invention of writing - of course plenty of bureaucracy. The city is best known for its legendary king Gilgamesh. His heroic deeds form the oldest epic in the world. Even in their early traditions, one finds elements that are later typical of Uruk, such as the construction of the city wall, the lion hunt and the worship of the city goddess Ishtar.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the German excavations, a comprehensive synopsis of the finds was presented for the first time. Here you could immerse yourself in the emergence and heyday of one of the oldest metropolises in human history.
Uruk - 5000 Years of a Megacity is an exhibition of the Museum of the Ancient Near East - National Museums in Berlin in cooperation with the Curt-Engelhorn Foundation for the Reiss-Engelhorn Museums Mannheim, the Orient Department of the German Archaeological Institute and the German Orient Society.

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Plakat zur Sonderausstellung: URUK 5000 Jahre Megacity vom 03.11.2013 bis 21.04.2014 im LWL-Museum für Archäologie in Herne

Hilm Böckmann - a Retrospective

14. September 2013 till 26. January 2014

Hilm Böckmann (* 1932 in Münster) can look back on an extensive life's work: he has devoted himself to art for more than 65 years and is considered one of the most important painters and graphic artists of his generation in the Westphalian region. As co-founder and chairman of the group "M60", he successfully advocated the legitimacy and topicality of realism at home and abroad. In his second profession, Böckmann was a graphic artist for the LWL archaeology department from 1961 to 1989.

On the occasion of his 80th birthday, Hilm Böckmann has compiled a unique compilation of his collected works: Inspirations from life, contemporary events, but also from archaeology combine to create lively statements of great depth. Böckmann uses the barely practised glazing technique of panel painting and disturbs the viewer with surreal elements. He gets us thinking.

Texttafel in der Sonderausstellung: Hilm Böckmann vom 14.09.2013 bis 26.01.2014 im LWL-Museum für Archäologie Herne (Bild: mila-wall/Gregor Diessner)

Cult of the Skull. Myth and cult around the human he

17. November 2012 till 14. April 2013

Unique skull finds and head preparations provide insights into the phenomenon of "skull cult". More than 300 exhibits testify to the special significance of heads and skulls in the cultural history of humankind. Whether millennia-old skull bowls, elaborately decorated head-hunting trophies or religiously revered skull relics, whether as a memorial to transience or as a fashionable accessory: "skull cult" looked back on a long cultural history.

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Plakat zur Sonderausstellung: Schädelkult vom 17.11.2012 bis 14.04.2013 im LWL-Museum für Archäologie in Herne (Bild: O. Kalus)

Stories of Discoveries. Recent discoveries by archaeologists in NRW

16. April till 20. November 2011

They still exist: real explorers. They are among us - children and researchers, scientists and walkers, archaeologists and adventurers. They find by chance or after long efforts, unexpectedly or after intensive research, what has been hidden for years or millennia in the safest vault in the world - the earth.
The most spectacular archaeological finds of the last five years were shown in the special exhibition "Fundgeschichten.

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Plakat zur Sonderausstellung: Fundgeschichten vom 16.04. bis 20.11.2011 im LWL-Museum für Archäologie in Herne (Bild: O. Kalus)

Ruhr-Riot 1225! Knights, castles and intrigue

20. February till 28. November 2010

The exciting exhibition on the Middle Ages in the Ruhr region has been the most successful special exhibition of the LWL Museum of Archaeology to date. Over 166,000 visitors were enthralled by it.

Plakat zur Sonderausstellung: AufRuhr 1225! Ritter, Burgen und Intrigen vom 20.02. bis 28.11.2010 im LWL-Museum für Archäologie in Herne (O. Kalus)

SHOE TICK. About cold feet and hot soles

6. December 2008 till 5. July 2009

From the first human foot protection to Roman military sandals and designer shoes, the exhibition told the story of shoes through the ages and across continents. Over 42,000 visitors saw the exhibition in Herne.

Plakat zur Sonderausstellung: Schuhtick. Von kalten Füßen und heißen Sohlen vom 06.12.2008 bis 05.07.2009 im LWL-Museum für Archäologie in Herne

Westphalia during the Bronze Age

16. October till 16. November 2008

On the occasion of the international colloquium "Gravescapes in the Bronze Age", the LWL Museum of Archaeology in Herne presented the studio exhibition "Westphalia in the Bronze Age". In addition to the famous bronze amphora from Gevelinghausen, exhibits from the period 1600 to 800 BC were on display, some of them for the first time, including urns, axes, needles, weapons and jewellery.

Plakat zur Studioausstellung: Westfalen in der Bronzezeit vom 16.10. bis 16.11.2008 im LWL-Museum für Archäologie in Herne

Attention excavation!

1. November 2007 till10. August 2008

Be an archaeologist yourself and discover things hidden in the ground! During excavation campaigns, young and old visitors experienced the exciting work of archaeologists. They were able to pick up their own brushes and trowels, measuring rods and pencils. An exhibition that simply whetted their appetite for more archaeology!

Plakat zur Sonderausstellung: Achtung Ausgrabung! vom 01.11.2007 bis 10.08.2008 im LWL-Museum für Archäologie in Herne

climate and humankind. living in eXtremes

30. May 2006 till 30. May 2007

The largest exhibition in Germany to date on the development of mankind from the perspective of climate history showed over 800 exhibits from all continents: from the mammoth baby "Dima" to hunting weapons through the centuries and climate outlooks into the future.  More than 125,000 visitors saw the special exhibition "climate and humankind. life in eXtremes".

Plakat zur Sonderausstellung: Klima und Mensch. Leben in eXtremen vom 30.05.2006 bis 30.05.2007 im Westfälischen Museum für Archäologie in Herne