The Messner Mountain Museum or MMM is a museum project by Italian mountaineer and extreme climber, Reinhold Messner, in South Tyrol in northern Italy. The mountain museum is based at five different locations.
The centrepiece of the Messner Mountain Museum is based in Sigmundskron Castle near Bolzano, Italy, and addresses the subject of man’s encounter with the mountains. The castle dates to the Late Middle Ages and houses the museum’s headquarters, administration and event facilities. There is a rock theatre that seats 200 people. The museum was opened on 11 June 2006 after three years of restoration to the virtually ruined castle. The MMM Firmian itself covers an area of 1,100 square metres. The theme of the museum is the history and art of mountaineering. Messner wants to show “what effect the mountain has on people”. as well as giving an understanding of mountains and mountain peoples. He demonstrates this by means of pictures, sculptures, symbolic objects and memorabilia of various expeditions, which are portrayed as part of a tour through the castle. Messner also displays the history of alpinism and the impact of alpinism and tourism on nature and the environment. A separate exhibition on the history of the castle and the region is in a tower.
This part of the MMM is housed within Juval Castle near Naturns, a late-medieval castle, and was opened in 1995. This castle is privately owned by Messner and he uses it as his summer residence. This MMM deals with the mountains as places of mystery and spirituality. Its main focus is the sacred mountains of the world such as Kailash, Mount Fuji or Ayers Rock. In addition, Tibetan exhibits such as precious Buddha sculptures and a giant prayer wheel are displayed. There is also an exhibition on Gesar Ling, an epic Tibetan king, a tantric room and an expedition room in the basement. Finally there is a collection of masks, displays on aspects of animism and mountain images in the keep.
MMM Dolomites is housed in a First World War fort at a height of 2,181 metres on Monte Rite between Cortina d’Ampezzo and Pieve di Cadore. This museum in the clouds was opened in 2002 and has the “vertical world” of the Dolomites as its theme. It covers the history of the opening up of the Dolomites as well as aspects of Alpine history and its protagonists.
The fourth part of the MMM is laid out underground below the Ortler in Sulden. Since opening in 2004 subjects such as the eternal ice and the Ortler are covered in an exhibition space of 300 square metres,] with exhibitions on skiing, ice climbing, the Arctic and the Antarctic. Visitors are able to go inside the mountain and its glacier.
The fifth part of the MMM is MMM Ripa at Bruneck Castle above the town of Bruneck. This is planned to open in Spring 2011 and is intended as an interactive museum, which will offer a forum for various mountain peoples to exchange experiences with the local farming community. Guests from other mountain regions will spend a summer here and talk about their lives. Examples that Messner has given include the Sherpas, South American Indians, Tibetans, Mongols or Hunzas.