The Messner Mountain Museum

With a central museum in Sigmundskron and five branch museums devoted to individual themes, Reinhold Messner has created a mountain museum that is truly unique. He describes the project as his “15th ascent over 8000 meters” – and makes use of it to communicate to visitors his knowledge and experience and the stories that derive from man’s encounter with the mountains.
MMM currently comprises six museums. MMM Firmian in Sigmundskron Castle near Bozen is the heart of the Mountain Museum; 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 relates the myths of the mountain. MMM Ripa in Bruneck Castle tells the story of the mountain peoples. In July 2015 the last MMM, MMM Corones, will open.
The Messner Mountain Museums are not conventional art or natural science museums; they have an interdisciplinary design. Each of the museums occupies a unique location, which helps relate the museum’s theme to the collections and the architecture. The geographical location, relics and works of art combine to form a whole.

Great things are done when men and mountains meet.William Blake

The heritage of the mountain

Like a mosaic, MMM provides the visitor with a unique experience at the interface between nature and culture, a place where we can learn what the mountains really mean to us. Each of the museums can be enjoyed in its own right, with the location and the architecture incorporated into the actual theme. But it is as a whole that MMM becomes an incomparable place of encounter for everyone for whom the mountains are more than a climbing frame or a competitive sports arena.

After a life spent in the vertical rock faces of the Dolomites and on the world’s highest peaks, and while still a wanderer in deserts of ice and sand, I have set myself the task of passing on my legacy. It is my wish to tell what I have experienced at the furthest points of the globe and to speak of the people who have shared fear with me, occasionally despair and ultimately the euphoria of rebirth. From a hostile world, we brought nothing back but our experiences. And at the end of every journey to the limits, when we were back again among human beings, all we had left was our lives – lives that had been saved and now called out to be filled again, with challenges, goals and tasks. One of those tasks for me is my mountain museum, MMM for short, where I tell what happens to us deep inside when we abandon ourselves to the mountains – to their sublime character and sheer size, to their dangers and mysteries. My mountain museum will ultimately occupy five locations. It will be like a big mosaic, opening our eyes to the values that have been inherent in the mountains of the Earth since the very beginning: timelessness in the face of erosion, dangers feared by all, and the deceleration we all so urgently need.Reinhold Messner

The museum's founder Reinhold Messner

Born in South Tyrol in 1944, Reinhold Messner has a track record of breaking with taboos – in rock climbing, on mountaineering expeditions, and crossing deserts and the Poles. For four decades he has built up a wealth of experience at the margins of the world that has enabled him to create a group of museums on the subject of the mountains. Reinhold Messner himself describes the project as his “15th ascent over 8000 meters”. His objective is to offer a study in human nature and the secrets it reveals when we find ourselves at the limits of our resources at the limits of the world. His philosophy – no artificial oxygen, no bolts, no communication – has made him a defender of those values that give mountaineering a dimension that has more to do with art than with sport. Although Reinhold Messner seeks primarily to define his basics for himself, his MMM has already become a global focus for the international mountaineering community.

There are mountaineers who bring people to the mountains and mountaineers who bring mountains to the people.Herbert Haß

Reinhold Messner's biography

Climber, writer, photographer and Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2004, Reinhold Messner was born in South Tyrol, Italy, on 17 September 1944. He grew up in the Villnöss Valley in the Dolomites and later studied at the University of Padua. He started climbing mountains at the age of five and has been one of the world’s most outstanding mountaineers for thirty years. In his over three thousand climbs he has achieved over a hundred first ascents, and was the first to climb all the world’s 8000-meter peaks. Messner was the first to reach Mount Everest’s top without oxygen support. He has crossed by foot the Antarctic, Greenland, Tibet, the deserts Gobi and Takla Makan. Messner has succeeded in opening numerous new ascent routes and has given an explanation to the mystery of the Yeti. In contrast to the modern figure of the adventurer-protagonist, Messner has never sought to break records, trying instead to maximize the exposure to nature in its purity and limiting to the minimum the use of artificial tools. On Nanga Parbat he adopted Mummery’s motto “by fair means”, on the Arctic pack ice he has followed Nansen’s “call of the North”, and has crossed the Antarctic via the South Pole, following Shackleton’s idea. In the era of mass communication, Messner chooses solitary trips, without the support of artificial means, from nails to oxygen and satellite telephones, experiencing nature as he is confronted with.

Reinhold Messner has written 50 books, which have been translated into more than a dozen languages. An eloquent speaker, he lectures throughout the world in international conferences, makes documentary films with well-known producers such as the BBC and contributes to specialist magazines such as National Geographic, Stern and Die Zeit. He has received literary prizes and international awards in France, Germany, Italy, Nepal, Pakistan, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom and the USA. He is honorary member of the Royal Geographical Society and of The Explorers Club in New York. Between his journeys he lives at Juval Castle in South Tyrol where he runs a museum containing a considerable collection of Tibetan art and an organic hill farm. Besides being a prolific writer, he has created the Messner Mountain Museum, six interrelated thematic museums dedicated to the art, culture, religion and peculiarities of mountain regions throughout the world. He has found the Messner Mountain Foundation (MMF) in order to support the mountain people worldwide.

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  • 1993: Opening of the mini-museum MMM Curiosa in the Flohhäuschen (Flea Hut) in Sulden am Ortler. Admission free
  • 1995: Trial opening of MMM Juval in Juval Castle in Vinschgau. Theme: Myth of the Mountain
  • 1996: Exploratory talks on Reinhold Messner’s vision for a mountain museum in Sigmundskron Castle.
  • 1998: The municipal authority of Cibiana di Cadore (Province of Belluno) decides to revitalize the fort on Monte Rite.
  • 2002: In the Year of Mountains, Reinhold Messner opens MMM Dolomites in the rebuilt ruins on the summit of Monte Rite. Theme: Rock/Dolomites
  • 2004: In Sulden am Ortler, Reinhold Messner opens the underground museum MMM Ortles. Theme: Ice
  • 2006: After five years of construction work at Sigmundskron Castle, the heart of the MMM museum group is opened: MMM Firmian, the Enchanted Mountain.
  • 2011: After years of restoration work, Bruneck Castle becomes the home of MMM Ripa, the fourth MMM museum. Theme: Mountain Peoples.
  • 2012: In the Powder Tower in the centre of Bruneck, Reinhold Messner presents the history of mountaineering in the Puster Valley at MMM Biography. Admission free
  • 2013: Place of encounter created for the Dolomites World Heritage site (UNESCO) in the village of Cibiana di Cadore. Reinhold Messner contributes an exhibition: MMM Archive.
  • 2015: On the summit plateau of Kronplatz – between the Dolomites and the Central
    Alps – Reinhold Messner opens a museum dedicated to traditional alpinism: MMM Corones, “the supreme discipline of mountaineering”.
  • 2016: The Messner Mountain Museum is in the top 3 of the best employers in South Tyrol and gets the “Top Company Award”.
  • 2017: Magdalena Messner takes over the coordination of Messner Mountain Museums.
    The Messner Mountain Museum wins again the award as “Best employer of South Tyrol” in the category 20-50 employees (second place). Reinhold Messner gets the international award for architecture “Premio Andrea Palladio” for his cultural development with the Messner Mountain Museums.