James Bond movies are famous for their fast-paced, unexpected plot twists, smart gadgets, and jaw-dropping locations. Hence, it is only fitting for a museum dedicated to the fictional British Secret Service Agent – code number 007 – to be situated in a stunning, hard-to-reach location. Open to the public since July 12, 2018, the 007 Elements museum sits at an altitude of 9,482 feet (3,000 meters) on the summit of the Gaislachkogl Mountain in Solden, Austria and is only accessible by cable car. Avid fans of the spy movies may recognize the venue from the action-packed snow chase sequence in the 2015 film Spectre.
The futuristic, mostly underground cinematic installation, built using high-tech steel and glass, spreads over an area of almost 14,000 square feet (1,300 square meters) inside the mountain. Built by Austrian architectural firm Obermoser Arch-Om in collaboration with Neal Callow, the art director for the past four James Bond movies, it is designed to blend in with the pristine surroundings.
Chief designer Johann Obermoser says building a concrete structure into the permafrost of a mountain summit was a mission in itself. The architect explains, "Geological fault lines, the exposed location on the peak and the extremely short building span created huge challenges. The crew could not work for more than a few weeks at a time. Therefore, the people and crew on site had to work on rotation shifts. During the construction phase, the weather turned out as one of the worst winters in the last 15 years, snowfall started in July, while in winter, storms and massive snowfall prevented us from getting vehicles to the site, so we ended up having to fly the concrete in by helicopter." Despite the hurdles, the project was completed within a year.
The immersive James Bond experience begins with the “Barrel of the Gun” tunnel, reminiscent of the title sequences and dramatic music synonymous with the famous spy films. The darkened entrance leads into an open-air plaza with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
After visitors have had their fill of the snow-capped mountains, they can enter the Lobby Room, which emulates Bond’s arrival into an enemy’s lair. Here, they are treated to a film outlining the history of the Bond movies from the very first movie, Dr. No, which was released in 1962, to the latest 2015 blockbuster, Spectre. Narrated by Sam Mendes, who directed Skyfall and Spectre, it sets the stage for the other exhibits.
Next is the Briefing Room, where visitors can gain insights into the selection of the areas where the movies are filmed. In the Tech Lab Room, fans can see up-close the cutting-edge gadgets and technology used by the Secret Service Agent over the years. The adjacent Action Hall showcases some of the special effects and stunts the movies are well-known for and also houses the airplane used in Spectre.
The Screening Room elaborates on the Spectre action sequence that was filmed at the museum’s location and provides details on how the stunts were staged. Guests can end their homage to the British Secret Service Agent in the Legacy Gallery, which features an extensive 007 archive via interactive touch screens.
While the museum is permanent, the exhibits will be changed periodically to include upcoming James Bond movies. To make the process easier, the architects have built a 49-square-meter hatch in the roof to enable museum officials to lift out large items, such as the Spectre airplane, and replace it with other big items from future movies.
If you are planning on visiting the 007 Elements museum during the winter, be sure to wear your warmest clothing. For though it offers many modern amenities, heating is not among them. While that may appear odd given the extreme location, it is the only way to ensure that the permafrost surrounding the building does not melt.
Resources: Guardian.co.uk, Independent.ie, Telegraph.co.uk, NewAtlas.com