A Tale of the Unexpected: A Heritage Encounter with a New Target Audience and the Sociocultural Impact Experienced by this Community of Participants

  • Krijn H. J. Boom
  • Monique H. van den DriesEmail author
  • Alexander Gramsch
  • Arnout Van Rhijn
Part of the One World Archaeology book series (WORLDARCH)


The Museum Herxheim (Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany) in 2014 built a life-size model of a Neolithic house as one of the features of a Landesgartenschau. This horticultural show welcomed over eight hundred thousand visitors, mostly from Germany, but also international tourists. Through the house, the story of the earliest human impact on the environment was told to a wide audience interested in horticulture, landscapes and the environment. The public was not only passively involved, volunteers helped to build the house and visitors could participate in a variety of activities, such as baking Neolithic bread with original ingredients. This engagement was evaluated by a joint team of researchers from the Museum Herxheim and Leiden University (Netherlands), to learn about the profile of the visitors that would enjoy participating and what sociocultural impact this heritage engagement would engender. To their surprise, they found an unexpected composition of this community of participants and some surprising impacts.


Heritage engagement Impact analyses Sociocultural effects Collateral visitors Well-being 



The authors would very much like to thank the volunteers of the Museum Herxheim who helped to conduct the survey (Charlotte Busch, Caroline End and Julia Grünebaum) and drs. H.A. van Rhijn for translating the questionnaire from Dutch to German. We are also grateful to the people running the Landesgartenschau for their support. The survey was funded with support from the European Commission, via the NEARCH project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Krijn H. J. Boom
    • 1
  • Monique H. van den Dries
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alexander Gramsch
    • 2
  • Arnout Van Rhijn
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of ArchaeologyLeiden UniversityLeidenNetherlands
  2. 2.Museum HerxheimHerxheimGermany

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