The permanent exhibition explores the "times of Altamira" and is divided into two main areas: the exhibition galleries devoted to the art and culture of hunter-gatherer groups in the Upper Palaeolithic, and the Neocave, where visitors can experience the Cave of Altamira as it was 15,000 years ago.
The Discovery of Art
This section is dedicated to Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, who discovered the rock art of Altamira. Although many wrongly disputed the authenticity of the paintings at first, his find marked the beginning of a systematic search for other caves that might also contain prehistoric art, an exciting "race of discovery" in the early 20th century.
Prehistoric archeology is the science that allows us to reconstruct the times of Altamira. Numerous disciplines are involved in recreating the distant past from the evidence found at archeological sites: sedimentology, paleontology, palynology, malacology, etc.
During the Pleistocene, other humans inhabited the planet before us and developed different cultures, from the first Homo that appeared in Africa 2.5 million years ago to Homo sapiens, our species. Before Altamira shows how the landscape and fauna of Altamira evolved during the Pleistocene.
Life in the Times of Altamira
At the dawn of human history, we developed an efficient way of life. An extraordinary culture spread all across Europe, from the Urals to the Iberian Peninsula, and endured until the end of the Ice Age and the beginning of the current epoch (around 10,000 years ago). The daily activities of human groups in the Upper Palaeolithic included hunting and fishing, preparing food, fashioning personal ornaments and turning animal hides into clothing.
The First Art
The ability to convey symbolic ideas through art is an innately human cultural faculty. This area showcases remarkable examples of rock art and portable art. Prehistoric art motifs, the great sanctuaries and even music—though all that remains of this intangible creativity is a variety of rudimentary yet fascinating sound-making objects—are individually illustrated and explained.