Mansfeld Museum

Useful Information

Humboldtschlößchen, Mansfeld Museum, Germany. Public Domain.
Gypsum Crystals, Mansfeld Museum, Germany. Public Domain.
Gypsum Crystals, Mansfeld Museum, Germany. Public Domain.
Location: Schloßstraße 7, 06333 Hettstedt Burgörner-Altdorf.
A36 exit Aschersleben, B180 through Aschersleben exit Mansfeld, B86 to Hettstedt. Signposted.
(51.625787, 11.512737)
Open: All year Thu, Fri 11-17, Sat, Sun, Fri 13-17.
Fee: Adults EUR 3, Children (6-18) EUR 2, Children (0-5) free, Students EUR 2.
Classification: MineCopper Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Mansfeld-Museum, Schloßstraße 7, 06333 Hettstedt Burgörner-Altdorf, Tel: +49-3476-200753, Fax: +49-3476-9363352. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1199 start of mining on the Kupferberg near Hettstedt.
~1618 end of mining due to the 30 Years' War.
1671 renewed upswing due to the so-called release of mining.
1785 first German steam engine of Wattscher design at the König-Friedrich-Schacht near Hettstedt.
1852 creation of the Mansfeld copper slate mining union.
1880 Mansfeld mine railway connects all the shafts and smelters.
1909 Hettstedt rolling mill built.
1989 Mansfeld Museum opened.
1991 museum managed by the Mansfelder Land district.


The copper shale seam from the Zechstein (250 Ma) outcrops here between Hettstedt and Eisleben in several places. The inconspicuous, black, slaty marl layer is the lowest layer of Mesozoic sediments in the Thuringian Basin. In the centre of the basin, almost 4 km of other sediments lie above it, but in the marginal areas, not only here but also on the southern edge near the Thuringian Forest, it is close to the surface. And here in the Mansfelder Mulde it has the highest metal content of 2 to 3.5 % copper. Above the marl layer follows a thick layer of evaporites, mainly gypsum, which was very important for mining. This gypsum, or actually anhydrite, is much softer than other rocks, yet stable. This made mining much easier.


Dinosaur Fossil, Mansfeld Museum, Germany. Public Domain.
Medieval Miners Lamp, Mansfeld Museum, Germany. Public Domain.
Steam Engine, Mansfeld Museum, Germany. Public Domain.
Steam Engine (Modell), Mansfeld Museum, Germany. Public Domain.

The Mansfeld Museum is not located in Mansfeld, but in neighbouring Hettstedt, not far from the former copper smelter. It is dedicated to the Mansfeld Kupferschieferbergbau (copper slate mining). But the industrial revolution and its consequences for mining also occupy a large area. The most important exhibit is probably the first German steam engine of Watt's design. It was built at the König Friedrich shaft near Hettstedt in 1785 and was used for dewatering. It drove the large pumps that lifted mine water from a depth of 100 m in the Burgörner mining district near Hettstedt. This was the first time such a steam engine had been built by German technicians and workers. It had a considerable initial effect and accelerated the use of steam engines in German mining, metallurgy and saltworks. The original was destroyed, however, and a replica true to the original is on display which was built by the Mansfeld combine's engineering works to mark the 200th anniversary of its commissioning. The anniversary, which was celebrated in 1985, marked the birth of the Mansfeld Museum. It was opened a few years later, in September 1989, as a technical museum and research centre for the history of Mansfeld copper slate mining.

The museum is located in the reconstructed baroque Humboldtschlößchen in the Burgörner-Altdorf district of Hettstedt. It was here that Wilhelm von Humboldt met his future wife Caroline von Dacheröden, and after their marriage in 1791 they both spent several years in Burgörner. Wilhelm von Humboldt (*1767-✝1835) was a Prussian scholar, writer and statesman. His younger brother Alexander von Humboldt is more famous today. Since the end of the 19th century, the property belonged to the Mansfeld copper slate mining union, which used the old manor house as a residence for senior technical officials.

In the permanent exhibition, the museum provides insights into the hard work of the Mansfeld miners and smelters. The exhibition shows, among other things, mining equipment and lamps, coins of the county of Mansfeld and mining medals. The collection on geology and mineralogy is fascinating. The Humboldtschlößchen itself is also worth seeing, the beautiful hall is regularly used for concerts and other events. It contains a library on technology and culture that is available to visitors. There is also an extensive archive with historical documents, written records and films.

The park-like outdoor area displays various machines from the mining and technical history of the region. A hand reel shaft, roadways and mining sites, surface installations and stockpiles, as well as a rope pulley form a kind of mine replica. In the area of smelting technology, a copper converter from the former Bessemerei, as used from 1926 onwards to convert copper matte into black copper, and a large gas scrubber for separating flue dust from the blast furnace gas are on display. In addition, it is possible to visit the Lichtloch 24 of the Schlüsselstollen, 250 m away, which is one of the few ventilation shafts still open in the district today.

The former Reichsgrafschaft Mansfeld (imperial county of Mansfeld) is now called Mansfelder Land, and its economy has been based on copper and silver mining for 700 years since the Middle Ages. Mining is said to have begun at the Kupferberg near Hettstedt around the year 1199. Around this time, there were advances in smelting that made it possible to process this difficult ore. Mining and smelting operations quickly spread from Mansfeld to Eisleben. It reached its heyday in the 15th century after the invention of the Kupferseigerverfahren (copper tiger process), which made it possible to extract the silver content from the raw copper. The mining lords were the Counts of Mansfeld, and the shafts and smelters were operated by the smelter masters on a leasehold basis. Hans Luther, the father of the reformer Martin Luther, was a Mansfeld metallurgist and miner. By the end of the 16th century, Mansfeld was one of the three largest copper and silver producers in Europe, producing up to 1,600 tonnes of copper and 8,000 kg of silver annually. The other two were the MineSchwazer Silberbergwerk in Tyrol and Neusohl, today the region of RegionBanská Bystrica in Slovakia.

The Mansfeld area was much less influenced by the silver discoveries in America than Schwaz, because it was mainly copper that was mined. Mining was more or less ended by the Thirty Years' War. From 1671 onwards mining recuperated due to the so-called release of mining. But a new heyday did not begin until after 1852 with the formation of the Mansfeldsche Kupferschiefer bauende Gewerkschaft (Mansfeld copper slate mining union). The Industrial Revolution began, which created both the sales market and the infrastructure. Soon more modern, efficient large-scale mines and smelting works were built. The Walzwerk Hettstedt (Hettstedt rolling mill), where the copper was processed into semifinished products made of copper, brass and other alloys, was opened in 1909. And yet mining costs rose slowly while market prices fell. From the 1930s onwards, the Mansfeld mining and smelting operation existed only with state subsidies.

After the Second World War, the mining area belonged to the GDR, and free-market influences took a back seat. Supplying the country and earning foreign currency became more important. This resulted in the highest production quantities in absolute terms, with around 25,000 tonnes of copper and 150 tonnes of silver per year. Lead, zinc, nickel, vanadium, gold, palladium, rhenium, germanium, selenium and other chemical elements were also extracted from the copper shale. In addition, paving and building stones were produced from the copper slag and sulphuric acid was extracted. But by 1969 this had already come to an end and the last mine in the Mansfelder Mulde region ceased production. Copper slate mining continued in the Sangerhausen area until it was also stopped there in 1990.

The copper smelter in Hettstedt still exists, however, and today it processes copper scrap and raw copper bought on the world market. The Hettstedt rolling mill is now a subsidiary of the Belgian company Lamitref and produces sheet, tube and wire of the highest quality.