The enchanted mountain: permanent and annual exhibition

Man's encounter with the mountains

As the centerpiece of the Messner Mountain Museum, MMM Firmian in Sigmundskron Castle near Bozen addresses the subject of man’s encounter with the mountains. In a setting dominated by the various peaks between the Schlern and the Texel range, the museum is spacious enough to be organized as an itinerary between the various works of art, installations and relics that it houses. The paths, stairs and towers lead visitors from the depths of the mountain, where their origins and exploitation are brought to life, and the religious significance of the peaks as an aid to orientation and a bridge to the beyond, to the history of mountaineering and the alpine tourist industry that we know today.

Annual exhibition 2019

Mountain views and stories

Edward Harrison Compton
He was born as the fourth child of the eminent English mountain painter Edward Theodore Compton in Feldafing on Lake Starnberg (Upper Bavaria) on 11 October 1881.
Having contracted polio in 1909 at the age of 28, Edward Harrison Compton soon had to restrict himself to easily accessible motifs such as the foothills of the Alps with their valleys, mountain streams, lakes and castles or picturesque views of towns and southern landscapes. He mainly painted architecture and landscapes in the Bavarian and Upper Italian foothills. His disability intensified from year to year and compelled him to use a wheelchair at the beginning of the 1920s. The artist spent the summer of 1923 in Kirchberg near the Kaisergebirge range. The watercolours and drawings he made at that time served him later as motifs for the paintings that he produced at his home in Feldafing when his illness made further travel impossible. In spite of the fact that he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, he created magnificent works of art and is unquestionably one of the most significant visual chroniclers of the world of the Alps. Harrison Compton’s biography and illness shaped and changed his point of view, his perspective on the mountains.

All fourteen 8000-metre mountains in relief work
Wolfgang Pusch, who was born in Munich in 1975, has been travelling the mountains of the world since his youth. He discovered his interest in mountain cartography. The realization of this fascinating symbiosis of science and craftsmanship gives the possibility of a three-dimensional representation of mountains and changes the approach and perspective on the mountains.

Mountains – The Fourth Dimension
Thirteen mountains that have made a mark in history: they have all been the scenes of human tragedy and mountaineering milestones – presented as they have never been before. Very precise digital images of the mountains have been created at the German Aerospace Center with the aid of satellite photographs taken from a height of several hundred kilometres. Scientists used these to produce digital terrain models, which were then turned into photorealistic “virtual” views from perspectives and heights that have never before been possible. They capture all the details of these mountains as an almost tangible reality – a brand new experience, and a brand new dimension.
Stefan Dech, Nils Sparwasser and Reinhold Messner have chosen mountains that are truly outstanding, whether for morphological, geological or climatological reasons, and which continue to present extraordinary challenges for mountaineers. They represent epoch-making conquests, new routes and breathtaking exploits, but also failures, and dreams and visions that have yet to be made reality. Their stories provide us with a compressed history of climbing. These key mountains take on a temporal component, another level: the mountains of this world in four dimensions.

It's always about the interaction between the man and the mountain.

On the mountain, I never took two steps at once. If you want to go beyond existing limits, you have to proceed slowly, surely and constantly, step by step. Anyone who is in a hurry and misses out a step will stumble sooner or later.Reinhold Messner

Sigmundskron Castle:history & restoration


The castle squats on a porphyry spur of Mitterberg overlooking the confluence of the rivers Etsch and Eisack. Sigmundskron was always something special; it is one of the oldest castles in South Tyrol and, with its five-meter-thick walls, an early example of the art of fortified construction. 945 A.D. is the year of the earliest extant record of the castle, which at the time was called Formicaria (and later Formigar). In 1027 the Emperor Conrad II presented the castle to the Bishop of Trent. In the 12th century the castle passed to high-ranking civil servants, who thereupon called themselves “von Firmian”. Around 1473 Duke Sigmund the Wealthy, Prince of the Tyrol, bought the castle, had it converted into a fortress and changed its name to Sigmundskron. Only a few minor structures of the old Formigar Castle remained, mostly at the highest point of the grounds. Due to financial difficulties, however, Sigmund soon had to mortgage the castle, which subsequently fell into decay. At the end of the 18th century the castle belonged to the Earls of Wolkenstein, from 1807 to 1870 to the Earls of Sarnthein, and from then until 1994 to the Earls of Toggenburg.
The castle is a significant political symbol for the South Tyroleans. In 1957 the biggest demonstration in the history of South Tyrol took place there at the instigation of Silvius Magnago. More than 30,000 South Tyroleans gathered at the castle to protest the failure to implement the provisions of the Paris Agreement and to call for separate autonomy for South Tyrol (“Away from Trent”). The ruins of the castle were finally acquired by the Bozen provincial authority.

Conserving castles

With the architect Werner Tscholl, Messner found a kindred spirit for the refurbishment of the castle and the exhibition blueprint. Tscholl is a specialist in castle conservation; his primary objective is to preserve the original. The challenge at Sigmundskron was to preserve the historical walls of the castle and implement the necessary measures in such a way that they can be reversed whenever required. The new architecture remains in the background and serves merely as a stage for the exhibition. The glass roofs on the towers, for example, are not visible from the outside, nor are the various pipes and cable ducts. The architect restricted his choice of materials to steel, glass and iron as being both modern and timeless.