Each artist and designer tell a personal story here, inspired by Swarovski crystals, said Stefan Isser, Director of the Swarovski Crystal Worlds Museum

It is said that glass has been around for fifty-five centuries, and although it is used to make all sorts of items, the truth is that it is magical, inspiring, and mysterious. People have considered it a semi-precious material from time immemorial.

More than a century ago, Daniel Swarovski took advantage of the beauty of crystal, and after inventing an electric glass cutting machine, he later founded a small factory in the heart of Tyrol. His main goal was to create a diamond for any budget, and he was a great success: the company has now transformed into the Swarovski empire.

Today, the company has a global presence and Andorra is no exception – crystals, jewelry, and accessories, as well as furnishings from this famous brand, can be easily found in the country’s shopping centres as well as in small private shops.

But what we can only find in one place on the planet is a 360-degree immersion into the Swarovski universe opened in 1995 to celebrate the company’s centenary. This experience is offered by Swarovski Crystal Worlds, a green museum located in the Austrian town of Wattens (15 kilometres away from Innsbruck).

We spoke to Stefan Isser, Director of the Swarovski Crystal Worlds Museum (Swarovski Kristallwelten), to reveal some of the secrets and curiosities of this extraordinary space. It not only brings together internationally renowned artists and designers, but it is a sensory delight that teleports us into glittering worlds.

Interview: Júlia Ponsa

What is the history of the museum?

Daniel Swarovski, who founded his crystal cutting company in 1895, saw crystal from the very beginning not only as a material but also as a source of inspiration. With this vision in mind, the Swarovski Kristallwelten (Swarovski Crystal Worlds Museum) was opened in 1995 for Swarovski’s centenary as a tribute to crystal lovers.

The museum has the so-called “Chambers of Wonders” – where does this name come from?

The original principle of the Chambers of Wonders, accessed through the “giant’s head” is based on the Chamber of Wonders of the Ambras Castle in Innsbruck. In the 16th century, this chamber was an attempt to assemble a universal collection of all knowledge of the time. This is what the concept of the Swarovski Museum is based on. The main idea is that every artist and every designer can tell their story that was inspired by Swarovski crystals. Renowned artists such as Yayoi Kusama, James Turrell, Lee Bul or Fernando Romero have decorated each of the wonder chambers with crystal according to their inspiration.

What can we find in the exterior area of the museum?

Circling the museum, you will find plants and flowers that radiate beauty, inspiration, and energy. We have created an amazing botanical landscape that naturally adapts to the surrounding Tyrolean alpine landscape. The centrepiece of our garden is the Crystal Cloud, designed by Cao Perrot. A work made up of more than 800,000 handmade and hand-cut crystals that, depending on the time of day and the seasons, offer our visitors new perspectives.

The play tower and the innovative children’s playground are a must-see, offering children plenty of space for all kinds of inspiring play and adventure.

The area also features a magnificent interactive installation created by Spanish designer Jaime Hayon, a crystallised carousel. This amusement attraction reimagines the traditional merry-go-round while maintaining its nostalgic appeal. It has a monochrome design and shines with 15 million Swarovski crystals – emanating a warm glow that creates a fairytale atmosphere. Folklore and fairy tales inspired Jaime Hayon to create the fantastical characters that adorn the carousel seats.

This summer, the museum is offering circus shows in collaboration with artists from the Circus Roncalli, a German professional circus. What can visitors expect from this event?

From 19 July to 1 September 2024, we welcome the artists of the Circus Roncalli to our garden for the sixth time since 2019. During the Circus of Wonder program, there are four show acts and 15 performances a day. The programme included in the day ticket is multifaceted, and our target audience is anyone who wants to have a good time. And we also have a special gift for these hot summer days (just find where the Chamber of Wonder “Silent Light” is located) and if you find correctly,  you will be waiting for winter magic and eternal snow with air temperature of minus 10 degrees centigrade.

Which Chamber of Wonders fascinates the public the most? And which one is your personal favourite?

Our Chambers of Wonders are unique, each one enchanting in its own way. One of our most exciting exhibitions is “Umbra” by James Turrell, one of the most recognised artists of our time. Another highlight is “The Art of Performance”, where visitors can admire the costumes of Hollywood stars such as Lady Gaga and Elton John. Personally, I’m particularly excited about what’s coming up in November. We will be introducing two completely new Chambers of Wonder. I promise they will be absolutely spectacular…

What is the profile of visitors to the museum?

The museum attracts a very diverse audience, including art and culture lovers, Swarovski fans, as well as families and people of different ages and lifestyles. As one of Austria’s most visited attractions, we appeal to a wide range of interests and preferences. We are happy to cater to the widest and most diverse audience and make sure that everyone can enjoy it.

This year we expect to welcome around 600,000 visitors.

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