Deutsches Museum

The Altamira Cave

Useful Information

the room with the cave replica at the ceiling.
Location: In Munich, museum island, city center.
Navi: Museumsinsel 1, 80538 München
(48.1304315168121, 11.58320909165395)
Open: All year daily 9-17, last entry 16:30.
Closed 01-JAN, Shrove Tuesday, Good Friday, 01-MAY, 01-NOV, 24-DEC, 25-DEC, 31-DEC.
Fee: Adults EUR 14, Children (6-17) EUR 4,50, Children (0-5) free, Students EUR 4,50, Seniors (65+) EUR 8, Disabled EUR 8, Families (2+*) EUR 29.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 8.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Replica ArchaeologyPainted Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography: Margareta Benz-Zauner (2012): Altamira – Höhlenmalerei der Steinzeit Deutsches Museum, 2012, 144 S., ca. 190 meist farbige Abb., broschiert, ISBN 978-3-940396-34-1
Erich Pietsch (1963): Altamira und die Urgeschichte der chemischen Technologie Abhandlungen und Berichte des Deutschen Museums, 32. Jg., H.1. München 1963
Address: Deutsches Museum, Museumsinsel 1, D-80538 München, Tel: +49-89-2179-1, Fax: +49-89-2179-324. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1962 Munich copy produced.
1964 copy for the Archeological Museum of Madrid produced by the Deutsches Museum.


one of the extraordinary "toros".

The cave paintings of Altamira are world famous, but unfortunately they are not open to the public. When they were first opened for tourists in the early 20th century, the amount of visitors was very high. The lively interest of the public in those paintings and the scientific value of the paintings was the motivation to produce a copy of this cave. The highest grade of authenticity possible with the newest technology available was the goal.

With this goals the modellers of the Deutsches Museum started in 1962 to produce a copy for their own museum. This was the first naturalistic copy of a cave ever. To get a most exact copy possible, a new technique called photogrammetry was used. To photographs were used to get a three dimensional view of the wall. This pictures were used to compute a relief map of the wall. This map was the modelled in gypsum. This gypsum was painted in the typical colour of the limestone, brown or sepia by the iron oxide and the clay. The paintings were copied on this surface by using colour photographs of the paintings. The used colours were as original as possible: clay, iron oxide and charcoal.

After producing this first copy, which is on display in the museum in Munich until today, another copy was produced. It was made for the Archaeological Museum in Madrid, Spain. This two copies started a still active process of scientific cave copies. Later many other caves were copied, Lascaux, Altamira, Chauvet, and probably Cosquer in the future. All those copies are based on the fundamental works at Munich.

However, it is rather easy to see a main difference between later copies and this one: it is only a segment of the cave. Modern copies are buried underground, producing the temperature, humidity and the smell of the original cave. And also the visitor has the impression to enter a natural cave, although it is much smaller than the original, which he will not notice without knowing the original. However, Munich is much easier. A rectangular segment of the ceiling is placed at the ceiling of a dark room. The original cave is low, this room is high, the cave is cool and humid, this room is warm and rather dry. And still. After five minutes in this room, the visitor forgets the artificial surrounding and is able to enjoy the phantasic artworks of the stone age.

Update 1995: the copy is now shown in an air-conditioned room much closer to a cave. The sound of dripping water is produced by loudspeaker, which is supposed to further enhance the cave effect, but is actually nonsense. Altamira was interesting for the painters precisely because no dripping water destroys the paintings...