It’s the oldest representational depiction of humanity - the 40,000-year-old “Venus vom Hohle Fels”. Together with other works of art and musical instruments from the Upper Palaeolithic era, it found a home near its site of discovery on the southern edge of the Swabian Jura, at the Urgeschichtliches Museum Blaubeuren (urmu). The 580-year-old hospital building has now been redesigned to show off these spectacular, one-of-a-kind testaments to culture. Art from the Ice Age is presented in ten divided, themed rooms, each individually designed as different worlds of colour and space. Walls and floors are coordinated with the installation, and are part of the exhibition concept.


Building type Public building (International)
Country Germany

In the official branch museum of the Archaeological State Museum, the prehistory of Baden-Württemberg is now displayed on a scant 2,000 m² of redesigned exhibition space. The museum site, founded about fifty years ago by Tübingen professor Gustav Riek, is the former Hospital of the Holy Spirit in Blaubeuren, over 580 years old. With help
from federal, state, city, and museum foundations, it was refurbished, expanded, and reopened on 16 May 2014. Uzin Utz SE supported the renovation of the centuries-old building with specialist expertise in the topic of flooring.

Modern museum in historical atmosphere

The exhibition on the ground floor displays the material environment of the Ice Age with everyday scenarios, and the one on the upper floor shows the intellectual environment in ten new treasuries. The stars of the museum are waterfowl, the lion man, flutes, and the “Venus vom Hohle Fels” carved out of mammoth ivory. The oldest known, and therefore most significant, representational depiction of the world is on display in the “mamma” room. All the items are assigned to different topics like woman, mask, the beyond, and sound. Spirituality and symbolism play a major role

40,000 year old art in emotive worlds of colour

A long, narrow corridor, whose dark grey colouring is deliberately reminiscent of the caves at the sites of discovery, accesses the individual treasuries. The space concept is coordinated precisely to the respective theme, colours and installations making the experience a sensory one. Thus the animal forms are presented in vibrant brown shades evocative of animal hides. The “woman” room kept in lilac, and “the beyond” appears in a cool blue with LED interference light. “The room colour is always a reference to the object,” explains the curator, Dr. Stefanie Kölbl. The walls, ceiling, and floor in the “mamma” room are deep red, since women in symbolism are connected with the colour red. “The floor is an important part of the room design,” explains Kölbl. “We sampled the wide range of natural shades of goat hair floors quite intensively, in large areas and under LED light, so that we could achieve the exact colouring we wanted. The visitor needs to be emotionally swept away by the colours and the rooms alike.” 

New floors for an atmospheric museum ambience

“Installing the floor during ongoing renovation measures worked spectacularly,” says floor expert Günter Hummel from UZIN. “The flooring work in the 580-year-old building was able to be handled well with the system of installation materials that coordinated with each other.” For structural reasons, steel beams had been brought in, which created vents in the topsoil. These had to be sealed with chipboard first, and then professionally repaired with fabric and fibre strands from the crack bridge UZIN RR 203. Next, the substrate was primed with the filling cement primer UZIN PE 630 and levelled with the tension-free gypsum smoothing compound UZIN NC 110. Even the floor under the old sisal floor covering had its pitfalls. Thick adhesive residues were removed by hand first before de-nibbing the crooked floor with UZIN NC 110. Above all, technical ability was needed for the uneven door thresholds. They had to be carefully levelled out with the firm repair levelling compound UZIN NC 880 in order to smooth the incorrect floor level between the individual areas and ensure that tripping would be prevented. Finally, the floor was optimally prepared for carpeting in the different room colours. The environmentally friendly and super low-emission textile floor adhesive UZIN UZ 88 (Emicode EC1 Plus, Blue Angel) with particularly great shear resistance was used, which matched the natural goat hair floor coverings. “We worked in increments with consideration for the works of art on this site,” reports UZIN technician Hummel. “It was necessary to give exact notification, because a carpenter put in a wall every day for security reasons. The next section was then approved in the morning.”

Museum of pre-history - fit for the future

“All building measures have been carried out perfectly, cooperation with UZIN went really well,” Stefanie Kölbl summarised. “With the redesign of the expanded museum, the foundation has been laid for the information centre for the intended UNESCO World Heritage. The application process for the state of Baden-Württemberg regarding the Ice Age art caves in the Swabian Alps is already under way, which we’ve very happy about.”

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