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Switzerland's prehistoric past on show in new museum

About 20,000 objects are stored in the Laténium, which has opend its doors to the public


Switzerland's biggest archaeological museum has officially opened its doors to the public in Hauterive, near Neuchâtel. The institution offers a glimpse of the area's distant past.

The new museum has been dubbed the Laténium, referring to a nearby beach along the lake of Neuchâtel. The site's name (La Tène) refers to the period between 450 BC and 100 BC.

Nearly 20,000 objects are stored in the museum, most of them discovered during archaeological digs throughout the canton and along the lake. Many of these objects date from around 3000 BC, when small villages were built along the lakeshore.

Approximately 3000 artefacts are on view in a permanent exhibition that covers the area's history and prehistory. Eight rooms take visitors back in time from the Middle Ages through the period of lakeside dwellers and all the way back to 100,000 BC.

The 2,500 square metres of exhibits offer more than passive entertainment. Along with videos and audio animations, mini-laboratories stimulate people's curiosity.

To complete the experience, the designers have built a replica of an ancient lakeside dwelling outside the museum.

The new institution cost SFr32.6 million to set up. The building also houses the cantonal archaeology service and the local University's institute of prehistory.

swissinfo with agencies


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