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 2017


“Knowledge for Tomorrow“ is the motto of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Around eight thousand people from sixty nations work there on research and development in the fields of aviation and space travel, energy, transport and security.
These pictures are an example of international cooperation. Our French counterpart, the CNES, and the Airbus Group have provided us with a great deal of satellite data, and most of the terrain models were based on photographs taken by the Pléiades satellites. These images show just what can be achieved by satellites: Their monitoring of the Earth gives us a completely up-to-date and accurate image of the most remote regions of the planet.
Satellites can measure air and water quality, record the condition of vegetation, provide precise terrain models and detect movements in the Earth’s surface down to the last millimeter. These tasks are just a few examples of the work done by DLR’s Earth Observation Center.
The importance of being able to keep watch on the planet is regularly proved by natural catastrophes. Satellites make it possible to carry out swift and wide-ranging analyses of the damage. For several decades now, they have been supplying us with information to which we would otherwise have no access. As with time-lapse photography they can record even the tiniest changes. Mountains are sensitive ecosystems that react to every alteration in the environment, and they demand our special attention – and not just from space. If we can use this information for the good of the planet and its inhabitants, we shall have fulfilled the purpose of our mission: to use the knowledge gained from science to provide a worthwhile future for everyone. In order to achieve this goal, science must open itself up to society at large and go far beyond interdisciplinary boundaries. Unusual and fascinating projects are a step in the right direction.

Professor Pascale Ehrenfreund
Chair of the DLR Executive Board

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.