Deeper underground: a new Czech museum is a Palaeolithic treasure trove

Deeper underground: a new Czech museum is a Palaeolithic treasure trove

The excavation of a complex of settlements from the Palaeolithic era in Lower Vestonice and Pavlov in Southern Moravia, near the Czech-Austrian borders, revealed a number of stone and bone tools, art objects and human skeletal remains, worth decades of extensive research. Thanks to them, the area is one of the hottest archaeological sites in Europe. Many of these artefacts are now accessible to visitors, who can browse through the exciting historical discoveries in the newly opened Archeopark museum, in the village of Pavlov.

The architecture of the new museum, which hosts not only the significant archaeological findings, but also a prehistoric burial ground and extensive documentation of the everyday and spiritual life of the Palaeolithic people, is just like their culture: strongly rooted in the earth. Local architects Radko Květ and Pavel Pijácek envisioned the building as a partially underground space. Several concrete volumes, sharp skylights and openings peak above ground, marking the museum’s presence in the landscape, mimicking the prehistoric architecture of dolmens and menhirs.

A gradually narrowing corridor leads visitors underground, to the main museum hall. Its abstract decoration is inspired by prehistoric engravings, cut through the side of the concrete wall. Inside, this contemporary concrete-and-wood grotto is divided into two levels that create a complex subterranean landscape. From the main hall visitors can access smaller, often deliberately claustrophobic spaces, resembling caves, where displays continue. The museum’s interactive digital exhibition by Brno-based graphic studio Pixl-e is complemented with murals by Czech illustrator Michal Bacák, as well as a relief by artist Petr Písarík.

The Pavlov museum may appear relatively modest and small in size, but it packs quite a punch – its significance reaching far beyond the geographical borders of its region.

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