New James Bond museum opens atop Austrian mountain
James Bond movies are known for their incredible backdrops — from Canada’s natural beauty in the spectacular opening sequence of 1977’s “The Spy Who Loved Me” to a colorful Mexico City in 2015’s “Spectre.”
Now, a new museum in the Austrian Alps will showcase one of Bond’s recent, memorable destinations.
007 Elements is an immersive cinematic installation celebrating Bond’s cinematic outings past and present. The museum neighbors the glacial ice Q restaurant featured in “Spectre” — both buildings are located on Gaislachkogl mountain in Sölden.
The museum, opening July 12, will be reached via the Gaislachkoglbahn cable car.
“It’s an authentic James Bond movie location, it’s inside the top of a mountain at 3,000 meters up in the air,” creative director and James Bond art director Neal Callow tells CNN Travel.
Callow worked as the art director on the past four Bond films: “Casino Royale,” “Quantum of Solace,” “Skyfall” and “Spectre.”
His envy-inducing job has him traveling the world, following in the jet-setting footsteps of the world’s most famous spy.
Callow reveals to CNN Travel why Sölden was chosen for some key scenes in “Spectre.”
“We were looking for a perfect environment for the character of Dr Madeleine Swann, who is a character in the Bond movie, she has this kind of frosty meeting with James Bond,” explains Callow. “And we were looking for somewhere high in the mountains with a unique, modern piece of architectural style.”
They discovered the ice Q restaurant with its cool design and incredible Alpine views.
Now it’s neighbored by 007 Elements. The two striking same buildings share the same architect — Johann Obermoser. The idea for the museum came from Jakob Falkner, who owns the cable car system in Solden.
“He wanted to extend the longevity of the relationship between 007 and his ski resort, which is Sölden, to bring more tourists to the resort from other parts of the world, or people who aren’t necessarily skiers, or people who want to visit the Alps,” says Callow.
The museum has a dramatic aesthetic resembling a Bond villain’s lair. “We wanted it to feel like somewhere that you might see James Bond operate,” says Callow.
“We obviously referenced back to the classic design style of the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s Bond films and the production designer Ken Adams, who did all the beautiful buildings, very big, dramatic shapes, brutal angles, lots of bare concrete and technology.”
The building also embraces Bond’s reputation for high tech, revolutionary design.
“Bond as a brand, I guess, or as a franchise, has always been famous for being right on the cutting edge of technology,” says Callow.
The museum embraces this innovation.
“It’s actually built inside the permafrost of the mountain,” explains Callow. The building is stabilized at 1 degrees Celsius (33.8 degrees Fahrenheit) so the permafrost isn’t affected.
“It’s made up of nine independent floating cubes that form together to build this one whole installation,” he adds.
Inside the building, the emphasis is on dramatic, dark chambers and immersive soundscapes.
“It’s not a traditional museum where you see posters and photographs on the wall and objects in glass cases,” says Curry.
“We wanted it to be much more something that you feel in a multi-sensory and emotive way.”
The sequence of spaces adds up to an experiential attraction — perfect for visitors to immerse themselves in.
There are iconic Bond props on display, including the full-size airplane from “Spectre.” Callow says the museum will be constantly updated and future-proofed.
“We can change the interactive on screens, we can even change the props and the big vehicles that are in there,” he says.
“We designed the museum in a way that it’s got a huge hatch in the ceiling of one of the rooms so we can bring large vehicles in and change them over, every time a new film comes out.”
That said, there’s always going to be a link between Sölden and Spectre thanks to their shared setting.
In fact, Callow points out there’s long been a link between Bond and snowy locales.
“Lots of [Ian Fleming’s] early life experiences took place in the Austrian Alps. So when he was writing these Bond books, on several occasions he put James Bond into those places he knew from his own personal memory,” says Callow.
Skiers will be attracted to the Alpine destination, but summertime in Solden is equally appealing. Callow highlights outdoor adventure center Area 47 and the 4-star Aqua Dome hotel as must-visits.
New Bond movie
If a trip to 007 Elements leaves you desperate for more Bond, you’ll be pleased to hear he lives to die another day.
“I’m working on the next James Bond film now, as an art director, no title as yet, but it’s being directed by Danny Boyle,” confirms Callow.
Star Daniel Craig is returning to the main role, as confirmed in a May 2018 statement.
While working on the past four Bond films, Callow has traveled to locations across the world.
“I’ve worked in all different places, in Panama, Istanbul, the Austrian Alps, the Bahamas, every time it’s totally different, but always good fun,” he says.
Aside from Austria, he name drops Istanbul as a particularly memorable experience.
“Istanbul was an amazing, amazing spot and I was there for a long time doing “Skyfall,” he says. “The people there were fantastic, it’s an amazing city with great food and great culture and stuff.”