There was finally time for a visit to the Panorama Museum, home of Innsbruck’s historic Riesenrundgemälde, previously displayed in the Rotunde in town. The interior is all modern glass and concrete, but they’ve done nice work with the presentation of the old-timey panorama painting, which still has its charms. One particularly strong impression is one of the very first — you have to descend an escalator to a lower level and then walk up a set of stairs to get “into” the panorama, and from the bottom of the stairs you see the Northern Range, and for a second you really aren’t sure if it’s not the real thing you’re looking at. Later in the connected Kaiserjägermuseum you find yourself looking up another set of stairs, at the top of which is a large picture window which does look out on the real Northern Range, and then you realize what the architect was up to.
Back downstairs, one proceeds into a large space with a lot of “tiroliana”, some of it hidden in secret compartments within wooden pillars, which looked popular with children. In the center of the room is a lot of political remnants (such as the horse’s head from a Mussolini statue from South Tirol, blown up by activists in 1961).
On the other side, a showcase of all manner of local “stuff”, past and almost-present. We didn’t quite get this part; it was as if the museum had to find a way to tie all these objects together and decided to display it almost randomly, with the archaeological finds right next to 20th-century mountain-climbing gear, insect display cases next to old crèches. Sometimes the explanatory signs were not easy to find. We decided that the snowboard must have been Andreas Hofer’s.
If you are visiting Innsbruck and want to see the Museum, I recommend taking the Nr. 1 streetcar to Bergisel (the last stop), then walking up the hill to the museum. There is also a restaurant with outdoor seating, and a gazebo from which to enjoy the view. Just across the park is the entrance to the ski jump arena, which also houses a cafe perched atop the jump, and more impressive views. This museum seems to be more for the locals than for visitors, but if you are interested in getting a sense of Tirolean history and culture without having to do much reading or traveling around, this could do it. The museum offers free headsets with audio tracks which explain what you are seeing. We did not take them, so I can’t tell you how they are.