Bernsteiner Felsenmuseum

Useful Information

Location: At Bernstein. (47°24'20.79"N, 16°15'18.81"E)
Open: MAR to JUN daily 9-12, 13:30-18.
JUL to AUG daily 9-18.
SEP to OCT daily 9-12, 13:30-18.
NOV to 23-DEC daily after appointment.
Fee: Adults EUR 5, Children (6-14) EUR 2.50.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 4.50, School Pupils EUR 2.
Groups (30+): Adults EUR 4.
Classification: MineCopper Mine MineIron Mine MineAntimony Mine MineGem Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: D=60 m, self guided multimedia tour.
Address: Felsenmuseum Potsch, Hauptplatz 5, 7434 Bernstein, Tel: +43-3354-6620, Fax: +43-3354-6620-14
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1770 antimony mining first mentioned.
1859 antimony mining by the Honved officer and Montanist Doubrava.
1876 bankruptcy of antimony mining, mine continued by the principal creditor J M. Miller & Co.
1929 antimony mine closed because of global economic crisis.
23-MAY-1938 Austria annexed by the Deutsches Reich, antimony mining revived.
1945 antimony mining stopped for a few months at the end of World War II, now owned by the allies (Russian occupation).
01-AUG-1958 transfered to the Bleiberger Bergwerks Union AG.
1991 antimony mining ended.


The antimony deposit at Schlaining is a part of the Rechnitzer Schieferinsel. It consists of upper greenschist, phyllite, lower greenschist, lime schist, and Caker conglomerate.

Serpentine is Mg6((OH)8Si4O10), which means it is a variety or at least a close relative of quartz. Its specific weight is 2.6 to 2.7 and its hardness 3-4 (after Mohs). The physical difference of Edelserpentin is its much lower hardess, which is only 2 to 2.5. And of coourse its fine colour.


The Bernsteiner Felsenmuseum (Rock Museum of Bernstein) is a museum and show mine. Bernstein means amber, but neither the museum nor the mine have to do with this biogene semi precious gem, it is just the name of the town. The museum is the work of the artist Otto Potsch, who creates artwork from a rock called Edelserpentin (literally fine serpentine). As there is only one single deposit of this rare semi precious gem known today, which is here at Bernstein, there is only a German name for this fine rock. The green and blueish rock is similar to Chinese jade, but has a different chemistry, it is a variety of ophite or serpentine. Here at the museum is a shop where the extraordinary artworks of Otto Potsch are sold.

The mine is originally a copper and iron mine, where chalkopyrite and pyrite were mined since the Middle Ages. It is located right below the museum and shows typical mining technologies and heavy machinery. Beneath the historic copper mining there was an important antimony mining at Schlaining, some kilometers to the south. Today only the gemstone mining remains. About 2000 tons of serpentine are mined for a single ton of Edelserpentin (precious serpentine). Only the best quality rocks are used for the artworks. The rocks of lower quality are used as tiles for floor and walls, and the poorest quality is used in road construction, as it is very hard.

The museum contains numerous fine minerals, ores, and fossils. One of the highlights is an extraordinary rock crystal cleft, which was found at the Hoher Sonnblick. A part of the exhibition is dedicated to Adolf Höfer, an ancestor of Otto Potsch, who was the first to work with the Edelserpentin. His complete workshop, with the wooden machinery, is on display.