Inside the golden sun barque

Here the history of the Nebra Sky Disc is the centre of interest. Over more than 300 square metres the unusual style of display reveals the true dimensions of this mysterious discovery: long-distance trade links, astonishing craft skills and fascinating astronomical knowledge give us an idea of how highly developed the cultures of the Bronze Age were. This is all presented with wit and charm: virtual figures flit through the display cases, films, comics and even a puppet theatre will inspire your interest in the Sky Disc!

The Visitor Centre’s approach is less like that of a museum, and more focused on the experience of the visitor, making the displays interesting for large numbers of people – irrespective of their age, background, education or interests. It has succeeded in combining the demands of scientific knowledge with an emotional experience. Through a richly varied interplay of (a few) original objects as well as replicas, texts, images, film and sound sequences, and hands-on, playful elements, the permanent display at the Nebra Ark communicates the facts about the Sky Disc and the Bronze Age, archaeology and astronomy.

The Sky Disc provides the central content of the display, without being present itself, however: it is ‘staged’ in a striking – and playful – way. In front of the framed, outside view of the findspot through a large panoramic window, large sculptures depict, against the light, the key motifs of the Sky Disc:  the full moon (or sun), the crescent moon and the Pleiades. If the visitor steps closer, the sculptures unfold to reveal information and exhibits. Even the design of the presentation thus communicates the complexity of the Sky Disc. Every one who sees the Sky Disc at once recognises ‘sun, moon and stars’. However, the intensive scientific research into it has shown that what at first seems like a simple depiction of the heavenly bodies in fact conceals complex astronomical knowledge – and even a whole Bronze Age view of the world. The designers have translated these facts into eloquent images: the large sculptures that represent the apparently two-dimensional image of sun, moon and stars resolve into three dimensions on a closer view. Behind and inside them is hidden the knowledge that is needed to understand the Sky Disc. The nearer a visitor gets to the presentation of the Sky Disc, the more complicated the image becomes, but at the same time the visitor gains ever more knowledge.