Is this the worst museum ever?


The Messner Mountain Museum Corones (#MMMCorones) is the latest, the sixth, addition to the MMM franchise. It had already opened three years ago but after experiencing the MMM Firmian near Bolzano a couple of years earlier we weren’t too keen to see more of the kind. However, the building by the late Zaha Hadid looked so good in all the images that we kept it on our list and scheduled the visit during this years holidays.

Kronplatz is a flat mountain top in the Italian Alps. The place itself is rather barren as it is above the tree line, yet the views are spectacular. Kronplatz is at the centre of several large skiing resorts and can be accessed from different sides. During the summer only two of at least six cable cars are running but they still manage to get large numbers of hikers and mountain-bikers up there. The MMM is a further incentive for tourists to make the journey.

Kronplatz PLC therefore invested in a spectacular building by a world-famous architect, Zaha Hadid, and gave it to the MMM franchise, that banks on the name of one of the best-known mountaineers of the past half century, Reinhold Messner, who is somewhat local. Those two names provide the pulling power for this institution, so that visitors shell out 19 € for the fare and 8 € for the ticket. The contents of this so-called museum are of no consequence, they do not matter in the least. Nobody seems to have invested a thought, let alone an idea.

A museum like this could tell a story. It could discuss the history of mountaineering, the achievements of its pioneers and the consecutive mass-tourism, it could reflect on the destruction of nature, it could try to explain something. Instead, this museum presents an array of unconnected objects.

There is a very odd selection of art works – the only criterion seems to have been that they depict mountains. Some of these were certainly even commissioned or were intentionally ‘collected’ but so many (especially older ones) are in such a bad state and of so dubious quality that they look like somebody had just bought them on ebay. They hang everywhere, behind doors, in narrow corridors, on utility cupboards, many are installed askew (sometimes the walls are at an angle but then at least the pictures need to be hung horizontal). In between, and I mean in between wherever there was still some wall visible, the exhibition presents objects that Messner brought back from his various journeys and expeditions: ice picks, ropes, climbing boots, a yellowish plaster cast from a 1995 injury, some Buddha figures, whatever. Several books by him are added for good measure, behind glass, without any information. And all over the place are inspirational quotes by other famous people about endurance and life. There is even an audio visual element in a small theatre. Messner tells stories from his career, one minute sound bites about his ascents to various mountains and about the death of his brother – in German, Italian, English – next. There is no dramaturgy, just a neverending succession of anecdotes. The audience fades in and out, it doesn’t matter!

This is a proper disaster, a study in how not to conceptualise an exhibition, and in particular, in how not to hang an exhibition! It is a wasted opportunity. Nothing but a marketing ploy! It works as long as the audience remembers Reinhold Messner. Who cares what happens in a couple of years?

Already now, there are some serious cracks in the outer skin of the building. The view, however, are pretty spectacular!








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