Geest is the name given to a particular type of landscape, a slightly elevated area of sandy and gravelly soils, most commonly heathland, bordering marshlands. It is also the name of a village in Lower Saxony situated in precisely this type of landscape, in the valley of the River Ems, 12 km south of Meppen, and about 30 km south-east of the peatlands museum at Barger-Compascuum on the western side of the Ems in the Netherlands.
The museum dates from 1999 and its indoor exhibits are accommodated in a large farmhouse [the Archehof] in the style of one built in the 1930s by members of a utopian community. The displays explain the history of the moorlands along the River Ems, their ecology, and the ways in which their resources, particularly peat, have been utilised by man over many centuries. The museum’s estate enables visitors to gain a thorough understanding of the landscape of the moors, through hiking routes, a nature trail, and rides on the feldbahn (i.e. narrow gauge private industrial railway) which last about 30 minutes. Hand-worked and mechanised means of cutting peat are demonstrated, and several large machines once used in the area are displayed, amongst them a 30 tonne plough by Ottomeyer which was employed for about 20 years.
The museum is also concerned with the conservation of endangered species, and with scientific research on the peatlands, some of it carried on in association with the University of Osnabrück.