Discovering the Messner Mountain Museum
27 April, 2016
The province of Bolzano, also known as Alto Adige and South Tyrol, culturally half-Italian and half-Austrian, is home to one of Italy’s best known mountain ranges, the Dolomites. They make up a spectacular landscape in which valleys alternate with characteristically shaped mountains that seem to rake the sky. They also change colour with the passage of the sun, to the delight of visitors – during the day, they are white, while at dawn and dusk they take on a splendid reddish tinge. Le Corbusier himself was enthralled with their magic and called the Dolomites “the most beautiful architectural work on earth”. Protected by seven parks, they were listed as a World Heritage Site in 2009.
The Dolomites provide the perfect backdrop for doing open-air sport like skiing or climbing and are also an ideal arena for enthusiasts of nature watching or those in search of inspiration. You are most likely to find inspiration in the Messner Mountain Museum, a network ofsix museums located in unique spots in the South Tyrol.They are themed around mountaineering, rock climbing and the culture of mountain dwellers.
The figure behind such a special museum concept as this – intimately linked to nature – is the unique, exceptional Italian, Reinhold Messner. Considered one of the best climbers of all time, his track record includes scaling all fourteen eight-thousands without oxygen. In 1978, Messner and his Austrian companion Peter Habeler were the first mountaineers to conquer Everest without supplemental oxygen. This heralded the start of a long career in summiting. In 1991, Messner’s intrepidness and thirst for new experiences led him to take part in the first expedition to cross Antarctica without outside support.
He currently leads a tranquil life centred around writing and the Messner Mountain Museum, an original collection of museums made up of the following spaces:
MMM Corones. Situated on the summit of Kronplatz, the story of mountaineering unfolds here. Designed by the architect Zaha Hadid, the museum was carved out of the mountainside. All that is visible from the outside is the three-pronged observation platform on the summit, with stunning views of Mt Peitlerkofel, Mt Heiligkreuzkofel, Ortler and the South Tyrol.
MMM Firmian. Near Bolzano stands Sigmundskron Castle, home to this museum themed around the relationship between man and the mountain. It is worth visiting it if only for its views of the Alps and the Dolomites.
MMM Dolomites. Also known as the “Museum in the Clouds”, it is located in an old bunker from the First World War on the 2,181-metre-high summit of Mt Rite, between Pieve di Cadore and Cortina d’Ampezzo. The museum is devoted to rock climbing, and conceptualised as a tribute to the Dolomites and everyone who has climbed them.
MMM Juval. Located in Juval Castle, it is dedicated to the “magic of the mountain”. The interior houses an exhibition of artworks featuring a Tibetan collection and masks from the five continents. The museum can only be visited as a guided tour, while in July and August it is closed, as it is the summer residence of the Messner family.
MMM Ripa. Another castle – in this instance, Bruneck Castle – houses this museum dedicated to mountain cultures. Not for nothing is the name of this space derived from the Tibetan words ri (mountain) and pa (man).
MMM Ortles. In the village of Solda, this simple stone building is half buried underground, with pasture thatch forming the rooftop of this unusual museum. The central theme is the world of ice and the subjects of skiing, ice-climbing and expeditions to the Poles.
Now that you have the keys to some of the marvels awaiting you in the South Tyrol, all that’s left is to book your Vueling to Verona – about an hour and a half’s drive from Bolzano – and discover it for yourself.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS
Images by Messner Mountain Museum and Zaha Hadid Architects (© Inexhibit)
27 April, 2016