SummerIsHere Representative offices UK & Ireland Krapina – Museum of the Krapina Neanderthal opened its doors  
Krapina – Museum of the Krapina Neanderthal opened its doors
After 11 years of construction, the Museum of the Krapina Neanderthal near Krapina, a town in the Croatian Zagorje, opened its doors.

It is a new, multimedia and technologically superbly equipped museum, which will put the spectacular Krapina finding site, the richest and most diverse in the world, on the European map of sensations.

The Krapina Neanderthals, the bones of more than 80 Neanderthals of different ages, were discovered in 1899 by Dragutin Gorjanović Kramberger, the famous Croatian palaeontologist, geologist and university professor, who came to the Hušnjakovo hill at the invitation of the local school teacher Josip Rehorić. During the six years of excavations, Kramberger discovered around 3,000 paleontological remains of Neanderthals and animals, which is the biggest collection of this kind in the entire world. However, it was not until the mid 1990s that scientists from the McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, discovered, by using the Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) method and by analysing the dental enamel of a rhinoceros, that the Krapina Neanderthals lived during the last great interglacial period, 130,000 years ago.

With its multimedia contents, the museum takes its visitors back to the age of the Neanderthals and they become part of evolution. Visitors go back 130,000 years in history and observe the virtual reality of their ancestors from Krapina.

The exhibition area of the museum is located between two hills – Hušnjakovo and Josipovac – and is spread over 1,200 square metres, split into two levels. The Neanderthals lived in so-called semi-caves, holes created by water in vertical bare rocks, mostly without vegetation, which were protected from three sides. There was only one opening on the front side from where they could watch out for enemies. The museum building is similarly constructed, almost invisible from the outside, resembling a concrete semi-cave covered in sand. The entrance to the museum blends in with the surroundings so it seems as if the visitors are entering a cave, becoming its inhabitant.

The atrium of the museum is designed as a stylised Neanderthal dwelling, with a glass wall onto which a 16-minute film on the life of the Krapina Neanderthal is constantly projected.

The exhibition is not only devoted to the finding site and the artefacts, but to the history of their discovery, the wider scientific context and the even wider time span, diverse interpretations and theories.

In the one of the halls, a life-like reconstruction of the finding site on the Hušnjakovo hill is located. Here, the copies of the most significant findings, from skulls and jaws of the early man to the bones of the cave bear, rhinoceros, beaver and deer. In the next hall, the origin of the world is presented, from the Big Bang to the emergence of the early man and today's humans. The designers have utilised the transition to the first floor to transform the climb up the stairs into a wondrous virtual reality. By entering a spiral, a double entrance cochlea, the visitor becomes a witness of the Earth's cosmic, chemical and organic evolution.

The most impressive part of the museum is a huge diorama with 19 figures with a complete reconstruction and representation of the life of the Neanderthal. This part of the museum presents an introduction into the interpretation of the development of the Neanderthal, their spiritual life, morphology, culture and environment. The sculptor who created the figures is the French expert in hyperrealistic dermoplastic sculptures.

The museum also brings the story of the origin of the world, the history of Earth and its first organisms, and every visitor can see the development of life from the first hominids to the Krapina Neanderthal.

The walk through the museum ends in a hall showing the cultural evolution of the human species after the Neanderthal.

The authors of the museum's conception are Jakov Radovčić, an experienced palaeontologist and the head of the Krapina Neanderthal collection in the Croatian Natural Science Museum in Zagreb who has been researching the Krapina Neanderthal for the past 40 years, and the architect Željko Kovačić. Museum experts from eight countries, from the USA to Israel, worked on the museum's exhibition.

The Neanderthals are a magical and mystical concept of the European early man, one of the many secrets of our beginnings. Who were these people older than 30 or almost 300 thousand years? How were they discovered and interpreted by 19th century science and what do we know, at the beginning of the third millennium, about these Stone Age people who were hunting rhinoceroses here 125 millennia ago? Where are the Neanderthals located on the family tree of life?

If you want to find out the answers to these questions, come to the Museum of the Krapina Neanderthal in Krapina, Croatia!

Krapina-Zagorje County Tourist Board

Museums of the Croatian Zagorje

Town of Krapina

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