The Museum That Majestically Sits Atop A Mountain

The recently inaugurated MMM Corones is a new museum about mountain culture that majestically sits atop of Mount Kronplatz in South Tyrol, Italy.

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1206-01Sitting at the top of Mount Kronplatz, on of the most popular ski resorts in the Italian Alps, the MMM Corones is no ordinary museum.

Designed by star architect Zaha Hadid, it is the brainchild of renowned mountaineer Reinhold Messner, the first man to complete the ascent of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen.

Inaugurated in July, the Corones – the Latin word for “crown” that is also the Italian name of the mountain – offers stunning views of the surrounding Dolomites and is dedicated to traditional alpinism.


1206-02The museum is built 2,275 meter (7,460 feet) above sea level, and is partially submerged by the mountaintop.

“This project is about what happen when men and mountains meet,” Reinhold Messner told CNN.
“I’m using it to express all my knowledge on mountains and reveal that mountaineering has been part of the European culture for 250 years.”


1206-04This is the sixth and last museum that Messner has opened in South Tyrol. The previous five — called “Firmian, Ortles, Dolomites, Juval and Ripa“, explored the themes of rock, ice, holy mountains, and mountains and people. The names are all preceded by the acronym “MMM”, which stands for “Messner Mountain Museum.”


1206-03Built on several levels, the construction has a small footprint – about 1,000 square meters or 11,000 square feet. Its design allows for a constant temperature level in both summer and winter, making it remarkably energy-efficient.

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1206-05Messner used a simple sketch to indicate his requirements to Zaha Hadid: “She knew that there was a necessity to build a museum that was under the earth, with two huge windows in certain directions and a balcony,” he said.

“The rest is hers. She had the idea to design it like a waterfall in the mountain and it became an extraordinary project.”


1206-06At the lowest floor, visitors pass by glass-enclosed viewing windows and arrive at a terrace from which they can enjoy a 240-degree panorama, spanning from the Zillertal Alps to the Orties-Ortler to the Dolomites.


1206-07To complete the construction, about 4,000 meters (140,000 cubic feet) of earth have been removed from the top of Mount Kronplatz.


1206-08The three large elements that protrude from the mountain itself are made of glass-reinforced fibre concrete.


1206-09Zaha Hadid explains the principles of her design with these words: “The idea is that visitors can descend into the mountain to explore its caverns and grottos, before emerging through the mountain wall on the other side, out onto the terrace overhanging the valley far below with its spectacular, panoramic views.”


1206-10“The orientation of the windows was crucial, because I used the mountains outside of the museum to tell a story inside,” Messner told CNN.


1206-11“In my museum, I’m a storyteller,” Messner said, “It’s not an art museum of natural sciences. We are telling stories about mountains and men.”


1206-12“The exhibition combines historic gear, art, and phrases from climbers and philosophers to tell a story,” reveals Messner.


1206-13Reinhold Messner, pictured here during the inauguration of the MMM Corones, was born in Brixen (Bressanone), Italy, in 1944.

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He holds the distinction of being the first climber to have captured all 14 “eight-thousanders“, the peaks over 8,000 meters above sea level.

He refers to his mountain-themed museum chain as “my 15th eight-thousander.”


The interior structure reveals a series of staircases that are designed “like waterfalls in a mountain stream,” to connect the exhibition spaces over three levels.

The museum is open to visitors every day between 10am and 4pm.


This feature originally appeared in CNN Edition.



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