Monrepos – a museum is reborn


For months my institute has been bristling with activity. On Monday July, 14th is the big day: the official opening of our museum after almost four years of renovating, reorganising, and reinventing… So basically our museum is reborn.
My institute is  MONREPOS Archaeological Research Centre and Museum for Human Behavioural Evolution, located approximately in the middle between Frankfurt / Main and Cologne in western Germany. It is a part of the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz (RGZM) that is a member of the Leibniz society. So we are generally publicly founded by the federal government, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate but also by the district and city of Neuwied / Rhine. The building in which the institute resides is an old mansion of the Princes of Neuwied. The main mansion was burnt down some decades ago so “our house”, which actually is the formerly princesses palace, is commonly called mansion Monrepos and it is a “mansion of researchers” (Schloss der Forscher) as I’m going to show you today. Thus, I’m not going to write about only my work but the work of many at my, or better our institute.

Well, the contractions of the birth of our museum slowly begin! At the moment most people of the institute are busy with making last minute preparations for the opening but also for the regular running of the museum afterwards. Besides all that, the research of our house has to continue…
This is just a small example that even though the institute consists of two main parts – the research centre and the museum -, these parts cannot be really separated. The research centre gives input to the museum with the latest scientific results and the museum explains these results and the benefits for our society to our visitors and visiting groups. Usually, the majority of visitors comes from this region but in the world of pre-farming archaeologists, our museum is known to a much wider circle as is proven by already planned visits of non-local groups, for example, from Switzerland and Jordan. So our museum and our research already reach a very wide public audience but still many people are unaware of the “behind the scenes” part that I’m trying to reveal a bit during the day.
The “behind the scenes” is, in fact, populated with many people that give life to our institute. These people and their work in and for archaeology shall be the focus of my postings.

Starting with myself: My name is Sonja B. Grimm and just last week I have defended my Ph.D. thesis about how societies change in the context of significant climatic change. On the example of changes occurring at the end of Ice Ages in North-West Europe, I could show how adaptable these hunter-gatherers were and thereby resilient to many climatic and environmental changes. However, small adaptations without keeping restricting safe-guarding strategies resulted in a collapse and a necessary reorganisation of the Lateglacial societies.
Yesterday, I received my dissertation with the comments of my committee back from the university. In the German academic system dissertations have to be published including the corrections suggested by the committee. Only afterwards I’m allowed to call myself Doctor to which some of my colleagues and I are really looking forward to this day – who cares about Dr. Evil if you have a Dr. B. Grimm???
So besides blogging about the institute, most of my day will be occupied with looking through the 700 pages of my thesis – again! – finding the remarks and changing these parts. Luckily, the RGZM has a publishing house where my thesis will be published so I don’t have to worry about finding finances for the publication. However, the page layout of the publishing house is not entirely the same as my thesis… meaning I also have to change the format of many of my graphs. Oh, happy office day!