31st October 2008 – 7th June 2009
For over 150 years the treasures dug up from the depths of our lakes have been kindling our collective imagination. The exhibition The pile-dwelling myth grouped together the initial discoveries, the main masterpieces of paintings with prehistoric themes, all the passions and phantasms related to the ‘pile-dwelling myth’ and invited visitors to discover the evocative power of archaeology. The exhibition presented the largest overview realised so far of the artistic and scientific scope of the pile-dwelling discoveries – a major theme in Swiss prehistory for over 150 years.
For the first time this exhibition presented a selection of unpublished finds preserved in the archives of the Laténium, which was completed by numerous loans from museums and private collections in Switzerland and other countries. Next to original finds from the initial archaeological explorations, a large number of historic paintings dated to the 19th and 20th century, models, original water paintings and gouaches, archive documents, ancient books, photographs, post cards, advertising posters and numerous documents stemming from popular culture were shown.
More than an exhibition dedicated to archaeology, “The pile-dwelling myth” was an exhibition about archaeology. It provided a look behind the scenes and used an expressive museography to create the conceptual framework of the dreams triggered by the discovery of prehistory. Between phantasms of barbarism and the ideal of the lost paradise, the scenes of prehistoric life reconstructed by artists and lay people attest to the evocative power of archaeology and the pile-dwelling myth from the 19th century up to the present day.