Fourth Messner Mountain Museum opens in Bolzano, South Tyrol
‘Great things are done when men and mountains meet’, William Blake.
The eagerly anticipated Messner Mountain Museum Firmian – the fourth of five museums created by South Tyrolean mountaineer Reinhold Messner - opened on 11 June 2006 next to the town of Bolzano / Bozen. The name of the museum project – MMM - has been initialised in order to communicate the jagged mountain peaks which have inspired much of his life. A visit to the museum is a must for anyone interested in the symbiotic relationship between man and mountains and gives a unique insight into the cultures and people of South Tyrol and other mountain regions around the world.
Reinhold Messner was born on 17 September 1944 and for the past 30 years he has been one of the world’s most outstanding mountaineers. Not only was he the first person to conquer all 14 of the earth’s summits over 8,000 metres, but he has also crossed the Antarctic, Greenland and Tibet, as well as the Gobi and Takla Makan deserts on foot. His greatest achievement came in 1980 when he ascended Mount Everest alone and without supplementary oxygen. Messner takes minimum equipment on his climbing expeditions as he likes to experience nature in its purest form, and in doing so, he has a respectful relationship with the mountain. He was a Member of the European Parliament for the Italian Green Party from 1999 to 2004 and he now owns a wine estate and castle in South Tyrol, Castle Juval, near the village of Naturno/Naturns.
Messner lectures throughout the world at international conferences and has made documentary films for the BBC among others. A prolific writer, Messner has had 50 books published and contributes regularly to specialist magazines such as National Geographic. He has received literary prizes and awards in France, Germany, Italy, Nepal, Pakistan, the Czech Republic, the UK and the USA.
Messner Mountain Museum project (MMM)
Reinhold Messner’s latest project is based on the idea of creating a meeting point for man and mountain by providing an insight into the cultures and people of mountains around the world. The project is made up of five interrelated thematic museums dedicated to the art, culture, religion and peculiarities of mountain regions:
MMM Juval (opened)
MMM Dolomites (opened)
MMM Ortles (opened)
MMM Firmian (flagship - new)
MMM Mountain People (no date for opening yet)
MMM Firmian is the fourth component of this five-part project and opened to the public on 11 June 2006. This museum is the centrepiece of the MMM project as it incorporates everything from the other three museums.
The new museum is situated in Castle Sigmondskron which dates from as early as 945AD and lies south of Bolzano - a city in the mountains and one of the most important North - South connections in the Alps. Both the castle itself and its restoration are of interest to visitors to the museum as well as the exposition housed within its walls. The exposition covers 1,100 square metres and includes pictures, sculptures, symbolic items and souvenirs of several expeditions around the world.
A different theme will be explored in each part of the castle:
· The White Tower – history of the castle itself and of South Tyrol
· The ‘Palas’ - represents the Alps in art
· Süd Rondell 1 – represents mountains of the world
· Süd Rondell 2 – represents all 8,000 peaks of the world
· Entrance - Messner explains the myths of the mountains
· North Rondell – about mountain inhabitants from around the world
· Eastern part – Art Gallery – as well as pieces of art themed around the mountains, there are also art objects made by mountaineers e.g. E. T. Compton – British mountaineer.
Messner wants the MMM Firmian to be an interactive, lively project so he has created an events area where festivals and congresses will be held.
Towering over the Val Senales/ Schnalstal valley, Castle Juval was built in 1278 and was opened to the public as the first MMM in 1993. The castle is open to visitors from Palm Sunday until the end of June and again during September and October as Reinhold Messner himself resides there during the summer months. The castle has been fully restored and it houses Messner’s own comprehensive Tibetan collection, sculptures from India, Nepal and Tibet, a unique collection of sculptures dedicated to the legend of Tibetan Gesar Ling, masks from five continents and an exhibition of religious symbols of Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism during the last 3,000 years. The museum also houses a library of specialist mountain and adventure literature. There is a picture gallery on four levels, which can be explored either by climbing up ropes or stairs. Messner also brought some yaks over from the Himalayas which now live on a small farm at the castle.
MMM Dolomites, otherwise known as the “Museum in the Clouds”, is the second part of the MMM project and has a 360° panoramic view of the Marmolada Glacier and the famous Three Peaks (Tre Cime di Lavaredo/Drei Zinnen). It houses mainly art objects from Reinhold Messner and other mountaineers, but it is the windows between the paintings which steal the show with their stunning views of the surrounding peaks. There are also the remains of several bears from between 30,000 and 60,000 years ago and the whole museum is centred around a sculpture and exhibition of Deodat De Dolomieu, a French man who discovered the Dolomites in the 18th Century.
The third MMM is the Museum of the Ice and sits at the bottom of the “Ortler”, the highest mountain in South Tyrol, and is almost within touching distance of the Val Senales/Schnalstal glacier. Over an area of 300 square metres underground Messner explores topics such as glaciers, the South and North poles and great mountains of ice through descriptions and art. Once again, there is a small farm with yaks at the museum.
MMM Mountain People
This is the fifth and final part of the MMM project. Each summer for the next two decades, guests from Tibet, Mongolia, South America and Nepal will be invited to visit South Tyrol and share their experiences with local people and tourists.
For more information on South Tyrol visit www.suedtirol.info.