Ötzi²º - Life. Science. Fiction. Reality.

From March, 1 2011 to January, 13 2013

A special exhibition entitled "Ötzi²º - Life. Science. Fiction. Reality." at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano to celebrate Ötzi's, the glacier mummy, 20th birthday. The Museum presents also the new reconstruction of Ötzi.

The exhibition will focus on the latest scientific findings, but it will also include oddities and absurdities. The common thread that emerges from the exhibition is: What impact has Ötzi had on us?

The special exhibition occupies 1,200 m², the entire exhibition area of the museum building: four floors, each devoted to one of the topics life, science, fiction and reality, will illuminate the full range of his discovery, the circumstances of his life, the results of the research and the media reality and fictions that have grown up around him.

  • Life: Living in the Copper Age
  • Reality: 20 years of media events
  • Science: The latest research findings
  • Fiction: Curiosities surrounding Ötzi

Interactive stations as well as films, interviews and hands-on displays guarantee an educational experience that is both exciting and entertaining.

A new reconstruction of Ötzi based on anatomical 3D images of his skull will be presented. Two renowned experts from the Netherlands, Alfons and Adrie Kennis, who had already put a face on Neanderthal man, are currently working on the new reconstruction, which will draw on forensic findings as well as artistic inspiration. Ötzi's new face and physique will replace the previous public face of the Iceman.

A 2007 installation by the British artist Marilène Oliver plays with multilayers of the mummy. In "Ötzi: Frozen, Scanned and Plotted" (also called "Iceman") Oliver translated the CT scan of the body from the ice into scan plot points that she drilled into acrylic sheets layer for layer and fused together in a translucent block.

Media reports from the first hours, projected onto a spatial-graphical glacier landscape, whisk visitors from the mezzanine floor (Life) into the exciting, hectic time of the actual discovery. Interviews with people who were directly involved in the find give a living picture of the euphoria that surrounded Ötzi. The first days following the discovery and the related interpretations of the origin and age of the mummy are depicted in episodic fashion.

On the stairs, a graphic mobile accompanies visitors to the next floor with a selection of the over one hundred different names with which the mummy from the Tisenjoch was at first dubbed by the media.

The first floor (Reality) with the Iceman and the associated finds has been transformed into a snow and ice landscape for the special exhibition. The content was revised in the light of the latest scientific developments in order to underline the uniqueness of the objects and consciously to direct visitors' attention to the details of the individual finds. For the first time too, the costly and complex preservation technology used for the mummy and the finds will be shown. Visitors are actively involved: they can feel the coldness of the cold cell or examine the technology of the showcases.

The "Discovery Room" is an activity area dedicated to various materials, intended for experimentation and trying things out: who was capable of creating Ötzi's birchbark container? How can cords be made out of tree bast? What does it feel like to wear Ötzi's fur coat?

The habitat of the Alpine areas during the Copper Age comes alive on the second floor (Science) of the Museum of Archaeology and is supplemented by important finds from the Alpine region and a specially constructed Copper Age field. What did people cultivate in the Copper Age? How were fields worked? What was the Copper Age diet like? What did a Copper Age village look like?

Further into the exhibition, visitors can learn close-up about the methods and working processes of scientists and themselves carry out investigations into the mummy at an interactive multimedia station. A touchscreen opens up a virtual body of the mummy, allowing features that are of note from a medical perspective to be seen and studied. Microscopes also offer a view of Ötzi's bone structure, which allowed researchers to determine his age. Objects, devices and other items used during the investigations illustrate a wide range of scientific research methods.

The South Tyrolean photographer Brigitte Niedermair has travelled throughout Europe in search of Ötzi reconstructions created by museums. Her large-format photographs depict numerous Ötzi reconstructions in various contexts and interpretations. She calls the life-size men from the ice a "Tableau Vivant". This unusual comparison of five Ötzis provides an interesting view of the differing interpretations of historical material.

On the third floor (Fiction) the museum presents an insight into the archives of the University of Innsbruck and the Museum of Archaeology in Bozen/Bolzano and the numerous unusual - and often strange - letters, media reports, documents and books surrounding the finding of the Iceman. This offers a selection of the items sent to the scientists and the Museum over the last twenty years. As well as Ötzi's life in the Copper Age, people are also interested in his existence today. Who takes the decisions about him? How much is he worth? How did he end up in Bozen/Bolzano? The exhibition gives detailed information about many of these frequently asked questions.

An artistic interpretation of the numerous cinematic reconstruction attempts finally gives a humorous impression of how today's media people imagine the life of Ötzi.

And on 18 September 2011 and into the early morning hours of 19 September - the day that the man from the ice was discovered - there will be a major birthday celebration for Ötzi.