Current Exhibits

A selection of our current exhibits


  • Cast copper cake

    It is thanks to a fortunate coincidence that the Mining and Gothic Museum is in possession of a cast bronze cake. This is the name for a by-product of primeval copper processing. The valuable raw material was primarily intended for further processing at the coppersmiths but was also used as payment during the Bronze Age.

    In 2018 a German family salvaged this example after a mountain tour in late summer from a waterhole of the Schwarzleo stream in the vicinity of the Bronze Age mine discovered in 2004.

    Mining activity during the Bronze Age took the form of an open-cast mine; this was proven by excavations by Robert Krauss and Martin Seiwald.

    The family found fragments of large storage vessels made of clay mixed with slag, fine ceramics in the form of a small bowl and almost completely preserved spruce wood shingles, which probably once formed the roof of a living or workspace. Secondary minerals in the form of malachite and azurite can be found throughout the entire early mining site.

    The discovery of the cast copper cake means that the smelting of ores in the mining district of Schwarzleo, while not yet proven, can now at least be assumed.

    The cast copper cake, found in the summer of 2018 in the Schwarzleo stream, weighs 651 g, is oval-shaped and, with a thickness of 1 cm, relatively flat compared to other finds.

    The material is solid and free of slag and charcoal. However, whether it is pure copper or copper alloy in the form of bronze will only be revealed through ongoing investigations.

    Pure copper would secure Leogang as the place of origin, whereas bronze would have been delivered as for the production of mining tools.

    The cast copper cake has signs that it has been at the bottom of the stream for a long time. Sanding sediments have round the edges and in some areas removed the rich green malachite patina down to the metal.

    Thanks to the finders’ great understanding the cast copper cake was donated to the Mining and Gothic Museum and represents an important find for research into Leogang mining.


  • Georgius Agricola

    Georgius Agricola (Latin for ‘Georg Bauer’) was a German doctor, pharmacist and scientist who is regarded as the ‘father of minerology’ and founder of modern geology and mining engineering. His main work De re metallica libri XII, ‘12 books on mining’, appeared for the first time in Latin in 1556, a year after his death, in Basel.

    Agricola’s work is the result of his travels through the mining regions of the Saxon and Bohemian Ore Mountains and demonstrates a systematic, technological investigation of mining and trade associations. Decorated with woodcuts, the entire mining knowledge of the day was compiled by the author, who in doing so became the founder of mountain scholarship. For two hundred years, Agricola’s books remained the decisive work on the subject.

    Later, the famous mining book was translated into many different languages. Philippus Bechius (1521-1560), a friend of Agricola and a professor at the University of Basel, translated the manuscript into German and published it in 1557 under the title Vom Bergkwerck XII Bücher.

    The cabinet of mountain curiosities at the Leogang Mining and Gothic Museum has three different editions of the famous work on display: the second Latin edition from 1561, the second German edition from 1580 and the first English edition from 1912, also called De re metallica.

    The first English translation was published by Herbert Clark and Lou Henry Hoover, a married couple, who added commentary and footnotes. Herbert Clark Hoover was not only a trained mining engineer and successful entrepreneur, but the 31st president of the United States of America from 1929 to 1933.

    The three editions of Georgius Agricola’s work on show at the Mining and Gothic Museum come from Achim and Beate Middelschulte’s famous private collection of mountain art in Essen.


  • Christ as Man of Sorrows

    One of the most important sculptures in the Beautiful style in Austria is the figure of the Man of Sorrows who used to be in a wayside chapel on the Pfenningberg near Linz. The figure is made in lime wood and thought to be from around 1400.

    In 1941 it was taken illegally from the Erlach collection in Linz for Adolf Hitler’s planned ‘Führer Museum’ and in 1953 handed over to the Austrian Gallery in Vienna. After its restitution in 2007 and auction in 2008 it ended up in the Leopold collection.

    The term ‘Man of Sorrows’ is used for devotional images of Christ which show the Saviour with his crown of thorns, actively displaying his wounds. These images do not depict the stages of the cross but rather promise mercy and absolution to believers through meditation on his suffering.

    The crown of thorns is no longer existent, which is why the sculpture is often referred to as the ‘Risen Christ’. However, Christ’s suffering and mournful expression tell us that this is indeed a Man of Sorrows or ‘imago pietatis.

    The figure of Christ stands on a rectangular plinth. The front and back are designed as well-composed viewpoints, while the figure, made by a master craftsman from Großlobming, nevertheless demonstrates amazing depth.

    Christ has a narrow, ‘ideal’ facial features, a high forehead, strong nose, plaintively opened lips and large, melancholic eyes. There is a kind of rapture in this depiction, corresponding to the almost shy presentation of the stigmata on his hands.

    The precise classification of the Man of Sorrows from an art history perspective has not been resolved. According to most researchers the sculpture belongs to the group of works by the master craftsman of Großlobming. His name comes from a series of stone figures that used to be in the parish church of Großlobming in Styria.

    It is worth noting that the wooden Man of Sorrows from the Pfennigberg appears to be similar to Bohemian-influenced works in its stylistic elements: the narrow head, wide eyes and melancholic sentiment but also the softness of the fabric and carving style.


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