09 November 2023
Post originally written in: Deutsch Information An automatic machine translation. Super fast and almost perfect.

You have to celebrate festivals as they fall. The Congress Messe Innsbruck can look forward to two major anniversaries in 2023: 100 years of Messe Innsbruck and 50 years of Congress Innsbruck.
Both event centers are institutions that have decisively shaped the city of Innsbruck and the cultural, economic, social and scientific life in Tyrol over the last century (and even beyond).

A look back

Two remarkable things were created to mark these anniversaries: the commemorative publication „Messe und Congress Innsbruck im Wandel der Zeit“ and an Anniversary exhibition in addition. Both projects offer a professional and impressive review of the history and development of Messe und Congress.

Anniversary exhibition

The exhibition curated by Sonia May Exhibition runs from October 15 to November 22, 2023 at Congress Innsbruck. There was already a prelude to this at the Innsbruck Autumn Fair 2023. For me, the exhibits in the small but fine show offered an exciting journey into the past. On display are great finds from the in-house archive and from the City archive and the Tyrolean State Museum Ferdinandeumhistorical documents, photographs, trade fair catalogs and posters for trade fairs, concerts and events of all kinds. My personal highlights include an accounting book from 1939 and an event booking booklet from 1996.

A commemorative publication about the changing times

In about one and a half years, a detailed book about 100 years of Messe Innsbruck and 50 years of Congress Innsbruck has been produced. The publication „Messe und Congress Innsbruck im Wandel der Zeit“ will be available in selected bookstores from November 22, 2023.
The Congress Messe Innsbruck only appears as the publisher of the commemorative publication, but deliberately chose an external perspective for this project. External authors were therefore asked to take on the topic. On over 150 richly illustrated pages write Susanne Gurschler and Dr. Wolfgang Meixner write about the eventful history of the houses. The most diverse facets are illuminated, with Susanne Gurschler focusing on architecture and cultural history, among other things, and Wolfgang Meixner also taking up social and economic historical contexts.

For me, reading the book was exciting, interesting and informative. I always find stories to which I have a personal connection particularly fascinating. And here, too, there were some aha moments and even some impressive surprises. All in all, the commemorative publication is (for me) a beautiful documentation of a piece of regional contemporary history.

Places that connect people

In the run-up to this article, I thought long and hard about which events of the past and present I should mention in connection with Messe und Congress Innsbruck and which I should not. Since a complete list is impossible due to the sheer volume and a selection would be difficult and somehow unfair, I will try to avoid it as far as possible.

Inspiring words of welcome

I was inspired by the high-caliber greetings at the beginning of the commemorative publication, as there is a common thread running through it: Federal President Alexander van der Bellen, Governor Anton Mattle, Mayor Georg Willi, President of the Tyrolean Chamber of Commerce Christoph Walser and Chairman of Innsbruck Tourism Peter Paul Mölk emphasize one thing in addition to all the congratulations on the anniversaries, namely that the event centers have always been and still are places that connect people. That is as simple as it is beautiful. And it applies regardless of whether this connection is created by a public or trade fair, a congress, a celebration, a concert, a corporate event or a ball.

100 years and a bit more: Messe Innsbruck

in 1923, the „Innsbrucker Messe Gesellschaft“ was founded, and the first Innsbruck Trade Fair „Alpenländische Landwirtschaftliche Messe (Alm)“ was held in various public buildings from October 7 to 14, 1923. A few years later, the Innsbruck trade fair had arrived at the exhibition grounds in Saggen.

A central part of the exhibition grounds back then was the large exhibition hall - and it still is today as Hall B, which is now a listed building. This hall was built in 1892, over 130 years ago. This history is quite extraordinary! The steel construction with large glass elements stood for an international industrial exhibition in Prague and was purchased at low cost for the Tyrolean Provincial Exhibition in 1893 and rebuilt in Innsbruck.

A visit to the trade fair as a folk festival

The great world and national exhibitions at the end of the 19th century, their dimensions and the enthusiasm for them are almost unimaginable today. Entire halls and buildings were erected and dismantled for them at extreme expense, and the resulting fairs usually also included a large amusement park. Apart from the large hall, there were huge open spaces where many pavilions, tents and stands could be set up. The fair was held in locations all over the city, even in schools.

For the numerous visitors, these events were unique highlights and popular festivals. The figures are breathtaking: over 159,000 people visited the Innsbruck trade fair in 1928, at which 614 companies exhibited. These figures were clearly topped in 1950, after an eleven-year break at the first post-war trade fair. With over 209,000 visitors, 793 exhibiting companies and a turnover of 57 million schillings, the 1950 Innsbruck trade fair underlined its international and economic importance.

From 1962 onwards, the current exhibition grounds were built again and again, and much has changed. Some of the multi-purpose halls that were built back then no longer exist today. The historic hall has been structurally adapted several times, but a docked ramp, for example, was also removed again. A drastic adjustment was made in the 1980s, when the exhibition area of the hall was virtually doubled by installing a false ceiling. Since then, Hall B has had two floors.

Around the year 2000, a (necessary) expansion of Messe Innsbruck was widely discussed, including a possible "relocation" to the outskirts of the city. In the end, the shareholders - the City of Innsbruck, the Province of Tyrol, the Tourism Association and the Chamber of Commerce - decided in favor of the existing location in the center of Innsbruck. an architectural competition followed in 2006, which was won by the CNBZ Architekten consortium, consisting of cukrowicz nachbaur architekten gmbh and bechter zaffignani zt gmbhwon the competition. Part of their concept was to restore the historic hall as far as possible to its original state.

In the middle of the city

in2012, the expanded and modernized Messe Innsbruck opened with its striking dark porch above the Messeplatz. The Messe S-Bahn stop was built in 2021 to provide even better connections to the public transport network. In addition, the green, beautifully landscaped new Messe-Park significantly enhances Ing.-Etzel-Straße.

In 100 years of Messe Innsbruck, countless events of all kinds have taken place. In contrast to many other cities, the exhibition center is located directly in the city, which brings challenges such as a difficult parking situation, but enables an event experience of short distances in an alpine-urban environment. Many hotels, the old town and other sights are within walking distance. We can look forward to seeing what trade fairs, events and developments the future will bring.

50 years of encounters at Congress Innsbruck

Even if Innsbruck is celebrating 50 years of Congress this year (2023), the history here also goes back much further. After all, parts of the Dogana, the largest hall in the Kongresshaus, date back to the 17th century. I told the exciting story in the blog article "The Dogana - from opera house to ruin and event location".

Good things take time

The "Dogana question" was the subject of debate for decades after the Second World War. There were architectural competitions that never came to fruition, many ideas and opinions. A new competition at the end of the 1960s finally led to a concept that was implemented from 1970 onwards by the architectural team of Heinz Marschalek, Norbert Gantar, Hubert Prachensky, Georg Ladstätter, Ernst Heiss and Peter Thurner.

In October 1973, the "Kongresshaus Innsbruck - Tiroler Veranstaltungszentrum" was officially opened and opened for events of all kinds. From then on, there was a suitable setting for congresses in Innsbruck. The Alpine city, which is primarily known as a city of sport and culture, also became a congress city.

A house of art

Alongside the Dogana, the Saal Tirol is an important centerpiece of the Kongresshaus. It can hold up to 1,500 people and its good acoustics are particularly appreciated for concerts. The symphony concerts of the Tyrolean Symphony Orchestra Innsbruck take place here. The Kongresshaus is a house of art in many respects, and not just when it comes to cultural events. A total of 205 works of art are owned by Congress Innsbruck, including pieces by Ilse Abka-Prandstetter, Anton Christian, Gerhild Diesner, Paul Flora, Bruno Gironcoli, Walter Nagl, Hilde Nöbl, Oswald Oberhuber, Markus, Hubert and Wilhelm Nikolaus Prachensky, Max Spielmann and Fritz Wotruba.

in 1995, the building was adapted and generously expanded: the event space was increased by 45 percent. The construction of the Orangerie, the redesign of the main entrance and the modernization of various halls and foyer areas followed in the early 2000s. in 2004, the trade fair and congress center mer ged under the Congress und Messe Innsbruck GmbH (CMI).

From 1973 to 1984, Congress Innsbruck was managed by Otto Zwicker, followed by Georg Lamp until the end of 2012. Christian Mayerhofer has been Managing Director of the CMI since 2013.

In 50 years, the Congress Innsbruck numerous meetings have taken place that have become lasting memories. The venue has received several awards, for example the Apex Award as "Congress Center of the Year 2001". Christian Mayerhofer, Managing Director of CMI, and Herbert Weissenböck, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of CMI, write in their foreword to the commemorative publication: "The concept for a congress center and exhibition center in the heart of the capital of the Alps with its extraordinary alpine-urban character has endured, both with an impressive past and a promising future, (...) in which Congress Messe Innsbruck does what it does best at its event locations - bringing people together!"

More than event venues

For many locals, their relationship with Messe und Congress Innsbruck is limited to a few events that they attend themselves, media coverage that they pick up or newspaper articles about the cost of this and that. However, the numerous events have a much greater impact than might be assumed at first glance. This applies in particular to international events.

Events trigger a wide range of value creation effects throughout the region. In a study published in 2019, the CMI presented impressive figures: The 450-500 events in the 2017/18 financial year at the Congress Messe Innsbruck locations with over half a million visitors generated 360 million euros in gross value added. This benefited the accommodation, catering and retail sectors, among others. This also led to job security, as over 5,000 jobs are linked to the events that take place.

These are remarkable figures! I had the opportunity to ask Christine Keth a few questions about this and other aspects. She runs the Innsbruck Convention Bureau and, together with her team, supports national and international congress and conference plann ers in the development and realization of congresses and corporate events in the Innsbruck region. Thank you for the interesting exchange.

Three questions for Christine Keth from the Convention Bureau

1) How important are congresses and trade fairs for the city of Innsbruck?

Christine Keth: "Congresses and conferences have a long tradition in Innsbruck, they have a positive influence on social and cultural life, the economy, tourism and not least on the universities. The proportion of international conference participants is high, which also has the advantage that many of them return as vacation guests or extend their stay in the region. The added value for the region is particularly high for conference guests: daily expenditure is around 1,000 euros, including travel costs."

2) What are the advantages of the central location of Congress and Messe Innsbruck?

Christine Keth: "The big advantage is certainly that congress and conference participants can often walk from the hotels to the locations. Restaurants are in the immediate vicinity and there are also short distances to shopping and cultural events. The advantage of trade fairs is that they can be reached by public transport, which is important in terms of sustainability. With the CMI, Innsbruck clearly has a competitive advantage here: once the congress guest has arrived, they theoretically don't need any means of transport on site."

3) What wishes does the Innsbruck Convention Bureau have for congresses and trade fairs in Innsbruck in the future?

Christine Keth: "What we definitely need in order to remain competitive are sustainable travel options. Innsbruck must be even easier to reach by public transport in the future. The Kongresshaus may still be 'charming', but it absolutely lacks modernity. If we want to continue to successfully attract congresses and conferences to Innsbruck, we definitely need an innovative congress center with a room concept that meets the requirements and is adapted to modern conference formats. A little 'make-up' will not be enough. Innsbruck as a destination with alpine-urban flair is becoming more and more attractive. Furthermore, the congress activities of the scientists at the universities and the high level of professionalism make a significant contribution to the positive development of Innsbruck as a congress location. The infrastructure must not lag behind."

The historic Congress and Messe Innsbruck venues have been through a lot - and I've been there with them, at least for the last 35 years. I associate many memories with the events there, but also interesting tasks as part of a professional station at CMI from 2015 to 2019. I am really looking forward to the further development.
I would like to thank Klaus Schmidhofer, Head of Sales at Congress Messe Innsbruck, for his friendly help, lots of information and interesting conversations.


Congress Messe Innsbruck: Rennweg 3, 6020 Innsbruck, Tel. +43 512 5936-0,,


Messe und Congress Innsbruck im Wandel der Zeit
Publisher: Congress und Messe Innsbruck GmbH, Rennweg 3, 6020 Innsbruck,,
Editors: Susanne Gurschler, Wolfgang Meixner
© 2023 Universitätsverlag Wagner in der Studienverlag GmbH, Erlerstraße 10, 6020 Innsbruck,,

Press release "Congress Messe Innsbruck generates 360 million euros in gross value added" from July 12, 2019, Congress und Messe Innsbruck GmbH, Julian Bathelt, BSc

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