Welcome to The Director’s Cut, an interactive column featuring fashion, beauty and career advice from RGNN Director and Founder, @isabelevabohrer.
Sustainability…the environment…our impact on nature…ever since the pandemic, such words are being thrown around more and more frequently in the fashion world. But in 1995, Swarovski’s 100th anniversary, when the company constructed its Kristallwelten museum in Wattens, Austria, the tree-hugger trends were not a thing just yet.
The Austrian crystal brand was a pioneer back then, and still is today. Upon arriving at the Swarovski Kristallwelten museum, at the foot of the sky-high mountains in the Alps, and specifically Tyrol, what immediately struck me was how the museum was fully integrated in its natural surroundings.
The crystal Giant, which serves as the centerpiece on so many Instagram posts of the place, is covered in grass and ivy, and the exhibition inside it is largely underground. As such, the museum does not disrupt the Tyrol experience – it makes it even more magical.
The museum concept: 18 “Chambers of Wonder”, each one designed by a different, internationally recognized artist. If you love everything crystals and want to immerse yourself in the world of Swarovski, the Kristallwelten is well worth a visit, so here goes with my full review and favorites.
My #1: Sir Buckminster Fuller’s Crystal Dome
My favorite of the 18 rooms was most definitely Sir Richard Buckminster Fuller’s crystal dome. I have always been a fan of his work, and this installation is perfect for photos and videos. (In fact, if you’re looking for a unique wedding venue in Austria, this is one of them!).
The geodesic dome is almost like a kaleidoscope, you’ll find yourself reflected everywhere and anywhere – there are 595 mirrors total! You can read more in my “final tips” section below, but basically, arrive early if you want to get the perfect shots here. Once the crowds get here, you’ll always have someone else in your photo because there are so many mirror reflections.
Second up: the Hollywood chamber
What do Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Cher and Katy Perry have in common? Well, they have all donned Swarovski creations. This chamber, titled “The Art of Performance” and curated by fashion designer Michael Schmidt and installed by set designer Derek McLane, includes Swarovski pieces worn by Hollywood’s greatest stars.
My personal favorite? Shoes, of course. You’ll find the original Swarovski slippers from the 2015 film, “Cinderella,” here. Dream on…
If you are ready for real snow
One room that some considered optional was the “Silent Light” chamber, or in my words, the snow room. And by that, I mean real snow, and it was really cold. This room is closed off by a separate staircase, so only those who want to get cold can do so.
More than 15 years ago in an extraordinary artistic collaboration, Tord Boontje and Alexander McQueen (I love his blazers and suits, but this tree is just extra…) created the Silent Light crystal tree. In 2020, Swarovski got hold of it – and you can now see it here. The temperatures can drop up to -–10° Celsius (14° Fahrenheit), however…
It was worth it in the end, though – this video turned out cute. Also, keep in mind that Swarovski designs a different crystal snowflake every winter – the perfect Christmas gift and you can even build a collection.
A fashion lover’s paradise at the end
Just before you leave and enter the gift shop, there’s a final exhibition room with spectacular Swarovski pieces by some of the most important fashion brands. One of my personal faves – this dress by David Koma.
Touring the gardens
If the weather permits during your visit, the gardens are well worth a visit. You’ll find the Crystal Clouds and Mirror Pool – another great opportunity for reflection photos and videos. Sit back and enjoy the view of the Alps, stunning.
My final tips for making the most of your visit
- My personal recommendation is to see the 18 chambers first and then the gardens.
- Book an early time slot, especially if you are keen on snapping photos before a huge crowd gets there. (Right now, they are offering Early Bird tickets for the time slot from 9.00 to 9.30, so check for special offers).
- In terms of photos, there are specific “selfie spots” designated on the floor, but to be quite honest, I tried them and they didn’t really work for me. So instead, get creative and take your own shots wherever you feel like it (or better yet, come with a friend and take photos of each other!)
- Food: there is a restaurant and food trucks on-site. However, if you are on a student budget, these options can be quite pricey (the restaurant is a frequent wedding venue!)
- Account for the weather. Keep in mind the museum is in the valley of the mountains. If you are looking to enter the “snow” room (see above), it will be FREEZING even if you are there during the summer.
- If you are not used to heels, wear sneakers. There is quite a bit of walking to do, and the gardens are beautiful, too.
- The store at the end of the exhibition rooms has a similar selection to what I have seen in other Swarovski stores. However, the museum does have the first Swarovski Optic store in the world, so if you plan on getting some stylish Swarovski sunglasses, this is the place to go.
- Taking into account the 18 rooms, the gardens and taking lots of photos, I would plan on 2-3 hours to take everything in.
- The museum can be visited as a day trip from Innsbruck, Austria, or even Munich, Germany (we did the latter).
Plan your trip
Kristallweltenstraße 1, 6112 Wattens, Austria.
- Opening hours: 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m., Monday through Sunday. Last entry at 6.00 p.m.
- How to get there: by car, shuttle bus from Innsbruck or public transportation – see official instructions here.
- Buy tickets here.
Thank you to Swarovski for inviting us to this special, sparking place.
Questions or comments? Follow me on IG @isabelevabohrer and say hi! See you soon!