Subject: 20 years of Ötzi – Ötzi20 special exhibition, Museum of Archaeology, Bozen
Information: Katharina Hersel and Kunigunde Weissenegger, South Tyrol Museum of
Archaeology, Museumstr. 43, I-39100 Bozen, tel. +39 0471 320114, fax:
+39 0471 320122
e-mail: email@example.com web: www.oetzi20.it www.iceman.it
THE EXHIBITION TOUR (entrance)
In the entrance area to the Museum, visitors are greeted with the installation “Iceman Frozen,
Scanned and Plotted” by the British artist Marilène Oliver. This artistic installation refers to the
intention of the exhibition: Ötzi is located at the centre and is shown in a very wide range of
The artist translated CT scans of the mummy into plot points, then drilled them layer for layer
into acrylic sheets and fused them together into a block. Oliver drilled data points (for the
most part virtually composed in order to conceptualise each section) into sheets, then fused
them together into a solid block. The man from the ice appears in these drillings, in the holes
where the light is caught and broken, and at the same time disappears again; the light that
reveals him also resolves him. It appears as if he is radiating from the block into which he was
drilled, shadowy and fleeting.
The artist uses her installation to visualise the inconceivable: the imaging procedures of
medicine resolve the represented body into data and plot points in order to achieve scientific
visibility. Oliver materialises this data as sculpture: sculptures that show and incarnate the
resolved body in a completely different way from that intended by imaging procedures.
LIFE (mezzanine floor)
Media reports from the first hours, projected onto a spatial-graphical glacier landscape, whisk
visitors from the mezzanine floor 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.
The Iceman is today one of the best-known mummies in the world as well as a milestone in
human history – media reports from all over the world serve to confirm his fame.
In the German-speaking world, the Iceman is most commonly known as “Ötzi”. How did he get
his name? In an interview Karl Wendl, the man who came up with the name, recounts for the
first time how he came up with the idea of calling the mummy “Ötzi”.
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.
REALITY (first floor)
The first floor 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?
SCIENCE (second floor)
The habitat of the Alpine areas during the Copper Age comes alive on the second floor 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?
Visitors will find that the research of the last twenty years provides plenty of answers to these
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
The discovery of an arrowhead in Ötzi’s left shoulder in 2001 added special interest to the
finds. The criminal case is reopened in the exhibition, with each visitor able to offer their
contribution to the solving of the case.
Another area is dedicated to current investigations, particularly the decoding of his genomic
DNA which is being investigated by the scientists of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman
at EURAC in Bozen/Bolzano. These and all other current research results are being presented
during the course of the exhibition. The exhibition will thus constantly evolve in order to
remain up to date while showing visitors the latest scientific discoveries.
One of the high points of the exhibition is the new reconstruction of Ötzi by the brothers Adrie
and Alfons Kennis from the Netherlands. It will be presented to the public for the first time at
the exhibition vernissage. The reconstruction will permanently change the image we have had
of the Iceman until now. He has been modelled using forensic methods with the help of
computer tomography data and a three-dimensional reconstruction of his skull. This complex
work is clarified by means of projections of the production process.
Further on, visitors can meet some of the numerous existing reconstructions. Photo artist
Brigitte Niedermair has photographed various Ötzi reconstructions in different European
museums. 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.
FICTION (third floor)
Hardly any other mummy has so provoked and inspired people to think about the
circumstances of human life. On the third floor we present, for the first time in the context of
an exhibition, 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.
It is easy to imagine the existence of Ötzi souvenirs such as ice cream and pizza that have
been named after him. It is somewhat more unusual when people get in touch and state that
they are the reincarnation of Ötzi, or that he is living today, reborn as a female shop assistant
in Graz. These and many other weird stories await visitors.
The worldwide interest in Ötzi, for example the discovery that his death was in fact a crime, is
indicated through a total of over 20 issues of the National Geographic magazine from around
the globe, in many different languages (and showing many different articles).
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.
Finally we ask the question of how things will continue: in four short statements, decision-
makers and executives from South Tyrol give their views on the future prospects for the
Museum and its world-famous “object”.