The museum of mining in Clausthal-Zellerfeld was established in 1892 by Adulf Achenbach (1825-1903), a Saarlander who followed a varied career in the service of the Prussian government in several parts of Germany. He managed the mines in the Clausthal region for 22 years from 1878 until shortly before his death. When the two municipalities of Clausthal and Zellerfeld were united in 1926, the museum moved into the former town hall at Zellerfeld. The 29 galleries of the museum illustrated every aspect of mining for metallic ores from the middle ages until the twentieth century. There are comprehensive collections of tools, lamps and mineral samples, and some historic mining models of pumping systems, winding towers and other large-scale mining installations. An open air section includes a stamp mill and other machines moved from mines that have closed.
The museum serves as the starting point for tours of the many monuments of mining history in the Upper Harz region, including the amazing systems for controlling the water that was used to power machinery and to wash crushed ore, and the two headstocks, the Ottilaeschact of 1868-74 and the Kaiser Wilhelm II shaft of 1880, which are the oldest steel headstocks in Germany. The museum and its monuments form part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site inscribed in 1992, covering the mines of the Harz mountains including monuments around Rammelsberg and Goslar as well as those of the Upper Harz.