Friday, 28 November 2014

SKI MUSEUM, ST ANTON, AUSTRIA

by Aruna Chandaraju

Ski Museum, St Anton, Austria. Pic courtesy: www.tyrol.tl

"Do we really have time for this," we asked our guide. We were standing in the village square of St Anton and watching kids skate around. There were several other things-to-do on the day's itinerary, it was already late afternoon, and we had an early-morning appointment the next day.  

"Of course! How can you come to St Anton and not visit the Ski Museum!" she exclaimed. 
Well, she had a point. A very good point actually. 

St Anton, an idyllic village with breathtakingly views of the landscape from anywhere you look, is located in Tirol, Austria, in the heart of the Alps,  and often described as a snow
paradise and the cradle of Alpine skiing. For all its rural tranquility, the village becomes one of the biggest and busiest skiing resorts in Europe during the winter sports season (around October to late March). Skiing is 'BIG' here and from amateurs of neighbouring villages to internationally renowned experts, thousands of skiing enthusiasts descend on St Anton during the season. 

Ideal for families with children too. The playscape in the museum. Photo: Aruna Chandaraju

So, it was natural for a ski museum to be located here. The building itself -- an over-a-century-old villa built in 1912 -- is a beautiful exhibit with its quaint architecture, aesthetic interiors and pretty landscaping. A leisure zone or alpine parkscape surrounds the museum. There is a small restaurant too. Actually, the whole of St Anton is dotted with restaurants many of which are located within the hotels/resorts that abound here. 

Exhibit inside the museum. Photo: Aruna Chandaraju
Within the museum, the history of St Anton and the surrounding region and how this place evolved from a small village to a famed skiing centre is briefly recorded. It tells us that many locals emigrated before the boom happened. The village, a primarily agricultural one soon became a tourist-magnet when its winter sports potential was discovered by outsiders. 

All things related to skiing -- you can find it here. Photo: Aruna Chandaraju
Another corner is devoted to the heroes of the sport. From the pioneers of  skiing Hannes Schneider and Rudolf Gomperz to modern-day champions, you get to know of the big names in the sport. The skis of two local sportspersons who won a world championship are displayed here. In fact, you see a lot of skiing gear and equipment around the museum which is spread over two levels.
The Museum appeals to your different senses. Photo: Aruna Chandaraju
The railways came to this area in 1884 when the Arlberg Railway was opened. It not only was a feat of alpine engineering considering the great challenge of building for a train in a mountainous region. The railway also contributed to the tourist boom by bringing in visitors from other parts of Austria and Europe. Scenes from ski movies of the last century are also showcased in another part of the Ski Museum. 

www.arunachandaraju.com