Stairway to cultural experience: the Messner Mountain Museum Corones

Written by Eleonora Usseglio Prinsi
Photo by Alexa Rainer

Week 49

Based on humankind’s relationship with the mountains across all cultures, Reinhold Messner’s Mountain Museum, divided across six locations across South Tyrol and Belluno, is designed so visitors must climb hundreds of stairs to reach the entrance and experience the altitude-changing sensation of the ascent.
Messner Mountain Museum Corones on Kronplatz, between the Gader Valley, Oland and the Puster Valley – is the final act in the Messner Mountin Museum project that is dedicated to the supreme discipline of mountaineering.
Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid was put in charge of framing the breathtaking views beyond the borders of South Tyrol to all points of the compass: from the Lienz Dolomites in the east to the Ortler in the west, from the Marmolada in the south to the Zillertal Alps in the north.
“As the storyteller of traditional mountaineering, it is not my intention to judge or dramatize but simply to condense human experience of a world that is my world, of the 250-year-old contest between man and the mountain,” explained Reinhold Messner, one of the greatest mountaineers of all time, renowned for making the first ascent of Mount Everest without the aid of tanked oxygen.

The six facilities include the refurbishment of three castles, an abandoned fort and two underground structures. The MMM Firmian in Sigmundskron Castle near Bolzano is the centrepiece of the museum and addresses the subject of man’s encounter with the mountains. MMM Ortles in Sulden is devoted to the glaciers and the world of eternal ice; at MMM Dolomites on Monte Rite south of Cortina, the focus is on rock and mountain climbing in the Dolomites; MMM Juval in Juval Castle in Vinschgau explores the myths of the mountain, and MMM Ripa in Bruneck Castle tells the story of the mountain peoples.

MMM Corones, inaugurated at the end of July 2015, is devoted to alpine history and offers unique views of the Dolomites and the Alps. The principal structure is buried into the rock at 2,275 meters above sea level.
“Visitors are able to descend with the mountain to explore its cavern and grottos, before emerging through the mountain wall on the other side, out onto the terrace overhanging the valley far below with spectacular, panoramic views,” says Zaha Hadid. Concrete canopies have been cast in-situ and rise from the ground to protect the museum’s entrance, viewing windows and terrace, which projects 6m from the mountainside giving a 240° panorama across the Alps.
The exterior panels reflect the lighter colours and tones of the jagged limestone peaks of the surrounding Dolomites. They are composed of a lighter shade of glass-reinforced fibre concrete and fold within the museum to meet the darker interior panels. The internal structures have the lustre and colouration of anthracite found deep below the surface.

Before the official opening in July 2015, the Museum was wrapped in bright blue loden wool provided by Moessmer wool factory.