Hamburg Archaeological Museum, Hamburg, Germany

The Archäologisches Museum Hamburg is an archaeological museum in the Harburg borough of Hamburg, Germany. It houses the archaeological finds of the city of Hamburg and the neighbouring counties to the south of the city. The museum owns – with more than 2.5 million cataloged objects – one of the largest archaeological collections in Northern Germany. At the same time, the museum is entrusted with the tasks of the State Bodensekmalpflege in the federal state of Hamburg and district Harburg and is thus among other things also responsible for archaeological care in this area.

The museum has two major exhibition spaces. The future City Museum of Harburg, temporary exhibitions, the library, offices and small storage facilities are located in the main building, which is shared with the Harburger Theater at Museumsplatz 2. The permanent archaeological exhibition and education facilities are located nearby, at Harburger Rathausplatz 5. In addition, the Museum maintains as external branches the exhibition area of the 12th-century Bischofsturm (Bishop’s Tower) in Hamburg’s old town, the Fischbeker Heide archaeological trail at Neugraben-Fischbek and the 8th-century hillfort of Hollenstedt.

“Discovering. Experiencing. Understanding”. 1,300 m² exhibition has many base camps from which you can set out on your journey of discovery. Inquisitive adventurers, aged 3 to 99, can become archaeologists and explorers in six exciting themed worlds. The special idea behind our exhibition: Archaeology creates a bridge linking the present to the past. From the past to the present and even into a possible future. Looking through large viewing windows set in the floor – our Windows of Time – you can see directly into the world of the ancestors.

The museum’s foundation was initiated in 1898 by the Hamburg Senator August Helms, who was joined by other public figures in a museum association. Their aim was to create a museum for the then independent Prussian city of Harburg (Elbe) and their county. In 1925, the founder’s sons deeded the museum a prestigious villa in Buxtehuder Straße to use as an exhibition hall, and the museum was renamed Helms-Museum. By that time, the collection already had more than 50,000 catalogued objects. In 1937, the Helms-Museum became a public institution. In 1955, the Museum left the villa, which had been damaged by a bomb in World War II, and moved to a new main building next to the Harburger Theater. In 1953, Director Willi Wegewitz initiated the open-air Museum am Kikeberg. In 1972, the Helms-Museum became Hamburg’s only archaeological museum, and all archaeological holdings at other Hamburg museums were transferred to it. Since 1987, the museum has been entrusted with the preservation of cultural heritage landmarks. For space reasons, the archaeological permanent exhibition was moved to its present location at Harburger Rathausplatz. A third exhibition area was maintained from 1990 to 1999 at the old Harburg Fire Station. On 1 January 2008, the ownership of the Helms-Museum transferred to the Stiftung Historische Museen Hamburg (Foundation of Hamburg Historical Museums), and it was renamed Archäologisches Museum Hamburg – Helms-Museum. On 14 May 2009 the newly designed permanent archaeological exhibition was opened.

With more than 2.5 million objects, the museum holds the largest collection of prehistoric finds. On exhibit are mostly local examples of the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras, the Bronze and Iron Ages, the Migration Period and the Early Middle Ages in northern Germany. In 2009, the newly designed permanent archaeological exhibition opened. It is structured in the following subject areas: materials, food, violence, death, innovation and mobility. In more than 160 glass display cases, models and large exhibit items represent all aspects of human cultural development over the last 40,000 years. In addition, installations on cultural heritage landmarks, the archaeology of Hamburg, and methods of collection and preservation provide information about the work of the museum and archaeologists. Some of the notable exhibits are the Duvensee paddle (one of the oldest surviving paddles), the Metzendorf-Woxdorf head burial, the Bronze Age Daensen folding chair, the Ovelgönne Bread Roll, the Saxon Wulfsen horse burial, the Tangendorf disc brooch, a section of the Wittmoor Bog Trackway and the Maschen disc brooch.

In addition to a special exhibition area, the main building on Museum Square houses the city history exhibition (currently closed), the administration, offices, a specialist library and numerous work spaces such as restoration workshops, laboratories and magazines.

The building is connected to a hall that is used by the Harburg Theater and is accessible via the shared foyer with its café there. Next to the entrance is the portal of the old Harburger Rathaus, which is embedded in the external façade. The most recently redesigned path from the main building to the Archaeological Museum and the town hall (“Museum Axis”) from 2007 onwards is a collection of objects on art, urban and geological history, such as the Herzog-Otto-Stein, a 30-tonne boulder Saale Ice Age, equipped.

The permanent exhibition on the history of the city of Harburg, which is housed until 2009 in a third location, the old Harburg fire station, is closed. In addition to special exhibitions on the history of the city, the establishment of a permanent exhibition is intended. The exhibition will focus on the history of Harburg as well as the regional history of the northern Lüneburg Heath until 1937. The exhibition focuses on the period between 1527 and 1642 as Harburg residence of the Welf dukes Otto I, Otto II and Wilhelm August of the Harburg line of the Braunschweig-Lüneburg was, in which the city experienced an economically and culturally sustainable upswing. The subsequent expansion of Harburg to the garrison town with the conversion of the castle to the fortress are discussed as the industrial development with the railway connection and construction of the marina in the 19th and the strong population growth at the transition into the 20th century.

Outside the main house and the permanent archaeological exhibition, the museum maintains several field offices.

Archaeological window Harburg:
Following the archaeological excavations in Harburger Schloßstraße, the Archaeological Window was opened in 2017 on the ground floor of number 39, where information on the history of Harburg’s oldest street and the excavation results are presented in three windows at multimedia stations. Visitors are given the opportunity to share their feedback on social networking presentations via an open WiFi access point.

Bishop’s Castle:
The Bischofsburg showroom in the basement of the St. Petri-Hof in Hamburg’s old town shows the foundations of a tower and a stone well enclosure from the 12th century next to it. The stone ring of the tower foundation, which measures approximately 19 meters in diameter, is one of the oldest stone buildings in Hamburg’s Old Town. Due to the proximity to the Hamburg Cathedral Square here the remains of a related to the episcopal tower, or even the bishop’s castle building are suspected, which formed the nucleus of the city of Hamburg. The foundations were discovered in 1962 during the reconstruction after the Second World War and have been open to the public since 1969 in the form of a showroom in the basement of St. Peter’s Court. After the reconstruction of the St. Petri-Hof, the showroom has been accessible since 2011 via the bakery branch located in the house.

Archaeological hiking trail in the Fischbeker Heide:
The archaeological hiking trail in the Fischbeker Heide was handed over to the public in 1975 and comprises the largest closed group of aboveground visible monuments on the Hamburg area. On the path, which was restored in 2002, eleven stations are used to explain the nature of the remains from the Neolithic to the Iron Age.

Burgwall Hollenstedt:
The Burgwall, referred to as the Old Castle or Karlsburg, is located about 1.5 km south of Hollenstedt in the district of Harburg in Lower Saxony. The former Ringwallanlage with an upstream ditch is located on the west bank of the Este. The low castle with a diameter of about 80 meters was built on a sand tongue surrounded by two streams in the 9th century. The originally 8 meters wide and up to 4 meters high wall was created as a wooden structure with a double-sided veneer from Soden. On the inside lay casemates and several houses. The entrance was on the west side, where a boardwalk led in a gentle arc across the marshy terrain to a gate. The wall was reconstructed in 1980 on the basis of excavation results from the 1970s in the state after abandonment of the castle. The former excavator Claus Ahrens dated the castle on the basis of the findings to the late 9th century. Deviating from the results are also interpreted as the construction of the Slavs between 804 and 817, when the Abodrites received the area by Charlemagne. After destruction by fire, the castle would then after a long time, probably by the Stader counts, rebuilt in 900 and later slowly expired.

Harburg Castle:
In the planning is the establishment of a permanent exhibition on the origins of the city Harburg in the basement vault of the Harburg Castle.

The library of the Archäologisches Museum Hamburg is the largest scientific specialized library on the archeology of Northern Germany. The function of the reference library consists primarily in the supply of the employees employed in the house with technical literature, in addition it stands, after registration, also open to the general public. The inventory covers the topics archeology, primarily pre- and early history, with a focus on the Hamburg region, together with Germany and Europe, Harburg’s urban and regional history, folklore and local history, as well as border areas to archeology such. Geology and geography. Users have access to three reading places and a computer workstation in the rooms for research in the OPAC, on the Internet and for CD-ROM applications. In 2009, the library has a total stock of more than 50,000 volumes and 250 current journals. The stock will be digitally cataloged successively and can be searched online.