The Messner Mountain Museum

Reinhold Messner is widely considered one of the greatest mountaineers of all time.  Born in 1944 in South Tyrol, he made the first solo ascent of Mount Everest; then, along with another climber, he made the first ascent of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen.  He was the first climber to ascend all 14 peaks over 8,000 meters (26,000 feet) above sea level.  He was the first to cross Antarctica and Greenland with neither snowmobiles nor dog sleds.  He also crossed the Gobi Desert alone.

In 2003, Messner began working on a mountaineering museum.  The Messner Mountain Museum (MMM) is a series of 6 museums spread across the Dolomite Mountains in Italy.  (Technically, the Alps include the Dolomites.  Locals call the mountain range in Italy’s northeast corner the Dolomites, while those in the northwest, in the Valle D’Aosta, call them the Alps.)  The six museums—Ortles, Dolomites, Ripa, Juval, Firmian and Corones—present the science of mountains and glaciers, the history of rock climbing and mountaineering, the history of mythical mountains, and the history of mountain-dwelling people.  Here are the six museums:

MMM Dolomites, also called “the museum in the clouds,” is housed in a renovated World War I fort on Monte Rite in the heart of the Dolomites.  At an altitude of 2,181 meters (7,156 feet), this museum is sensational for the views alone: From the plateau at the summit there is a 360° panorama of the most spectacular mountains in the Dolomites.  The theme is “rock” and “the vertical world” of the mountains.  The exhibitions illustrate the conquest of the Dolomites with reference to first ascents, new routes, and those natural scientists and mountaineers who wrote alpine history with their discoveries. As Messner has written, “I have climbed some 3,500 mountains in my life…Yet I have never seen more beautiful rock formations in the world than those of the Dolomites.”

MMM Ortles, the museum devoted to the world of ice, is located beneath a glacier at Sulden am Ortler at an elevation of 1,900 meters (6,234 feet) above sea level.  Skiing, ice-climbing and expeditions to the Poles are the themes of this museum.  Visitors are literally inside the mountain where they experience the worlds of ice mountains, the Arctic and Antarctic, and Mount Everest (“the third Pole”), as well as the power of avalanches.

MMM Ripa, a museum located in the castle above the town of Bruneck, is devoted to the mountain peoples of Asia, Africa, South America and Europe.  As Messner says, “It is the people in the mountains who give them life and a history.”  Exhibitions focus on the daily lives, dwellings, cultures and religions of people who live on the brink of life…including the Sherpas, South American Indians, Tibetans, Mongols and Hunzas.

MMM Juval is located in a castle in Vinschgau and is perched like an aerie on a rocky promontory.  This museum is dedicated to the myth and magic of the mountains.  It houses several fine art collections, including a gallery of paintings of the world’s holy mountains, a collection of masks from five continents, and even a Tantra Room where the traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism are explored, such as mantras, meditation and yoga.

MMM Firmian, the museum located in Sigmundskron Castle near Bozen, addresses man’s encounter with the mountains.  It is organized as an itinerary along paths, stairs and towers for viewing works of art, installations and relics.  From exploring the depths of the mountains to the religious significance of their peaks as an aid to orientation and a bridge to the beyond, this museum also includes the history of mountaineering and of the alpine tourist industry.

MMM Corones is the final act in the Messner Mountain Museum project and is dedicated to mountain history and mountaineering.  In this museum, Messner presents the development of modern mountaineering, 250 years of progress in the evolution of equipment, and the triumphs and tragedies on the world’s most famous peaks.  Corones is situated on the summit plateau of Kronplatz at 2,275 meters (7,464 feet). It is on the edge of the most magnificent viewing platform in South Tyrol with panoramas extending throughout the Alps.

It is this museum that attracted the attention of CNN, which featured it in “10 scenic and remote museums worth the trip;” each offers stunning natural beauty and artistic value around the world.  This museum was designed by Zaha Hadid (1950-2016), the British-Iraqi architect widely believed to be one of the foremost architects of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.  Her major works include the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics, the Broad Art Museum in Los Angeles, Rome’s MAXXI Museum and the Guangzhou Opera House.

Messner sums up Corones this way: “South Tyrol’s famous mountain for skiers and hikers and a perfect launchpad for hanggliders and paragliders is now home to the crowning piece of my mountain museum project…It is a place of withdrawal that opens up the human senses for the above and beyond, where the mountains become an experiential space and a part of our culture.  In mental flights beyond all summits, they are revealed anew.”

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This entry was posted in Alpe, Architecture, Arte, English, Foto, Italia, Lo Sport, Storia, Vacanze. Bookmark the permalink.

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