The entrance is flanked by massive, glowing, blue-green pillars to either side. Upon closer inspection, they turn out to be towers of ice cube trays! Why? The text alongside explains how the landscape around Hamburg was carved by glacial action. Aha!
Built into the floor beside this pillar (detail below; another can be seen in the room view above) is a glass plate. It has a blue cast to all but two spots, where goggles are placed on the glass with a clear view onto the antlers, pot sherds, and other artifacts from this area. This is a strong invitation to get close and peer inside.
A pile of TVs alight with flickering flames (right) draws attention to the section about fire: its invention, how it was first made, and how it changed eating habits for early man. But the TVs aren't just a flashy gimmick: the text points out that just as our ancestors sat around the fire at night for community and entertainment, so today we sit around the TV for similar reasons!
One of the most rewarding parts of my visit was seeing a group of four-year-olds put these displays to the test, climbing the rocks, lifting the lids, pulling and peeking and, well, engaging! (Which makes a person appreciate how kid-proof it all is, to still look new after 8 years of such rigorous testing.) My next post will turn to the second-floor gallery, quite different in atmosphere but equally creative.