Thermen Museum, Heerlen, Netherlands
The Thermen Museum is built around the Roman ruins of a bathhouse exactly where they were discovered. It is not worth a visit to the area just to see this museum, but it is the perfect place for a stop if you’re passing through. The paid city garage is a 2 min walk and the museum is in the shopping district so it is easy to combine this stop with food, a walk around town or a grocery store visit. The Thermen Museum is part of the Museumkaart program. All exhibits are in Dutch.
You start your visit in a new section of the museum that is designed to explore the ritual of the bathing house. Through hands-on exhibits you learn who came to the bath house, what they did at the bath house, and why it was considered important.
Next you head to an elevated platform above the ruins.
While we were there people were actively working on the restoration. The kids loved watching the activity below.
Each section of the building has a dedicated tv screen that shows a video of what that area would have looked like and what it was used for. The kids watched each video loop a few times, finding the remaining pieces in the ruins below and asking lots of questions.
The next portion of the museum explores the artifacts found in the ruins and what they were used for. Again, there are lots of hands-on activities.
We all got a sense of how difficult it is to put pots back together with the pottery puzzles.
The kids had the chance to grind their own wheat my smashing the grains open with a mallet.
Then you had to walk them over to the mill and grind them. The kids loved watching the crushed grains come spitting out the side of the mill stones as flour.
There is a third section of the museum behind the gift shop that we almost missed. This focuses on the science of archaeology.
The boys were able to dig up artifacts in little boxes and map where they were found on grid paper. There was also a whole table of ancient games that we bypassed completely due to time.
We loved this little museum and highly reccomend a stop if you’re passing through.