MUSE is located on an 11-hectare brownfield industrial area adjacent to the Adige river and what used to be a Michelin tire factory. The factory was on the edge of the city center and effectively cut residents off from the river, and once the factory closed, the site became completely neglected. The new museum is part of a much larger redevelopment project that includes housing, leisure, commerce and office space and reconnects the area to the city center. The entire project is designed by Renzo Piano, and the first stage, which is the museum, will be completed in early 2012.
The 140 meter-long building features peaks and valleys that are inspired by the mountains surrounding Trento. Exhibits inside the museum will be specifically tied to ecosystems of the alpine and coastal environments of Northern Italy. A large lobby conceived as a covered piazza welcomes visitors to the museum. From there visitors can explore the exhibits or a large indoor tropical garden. The building is surrounded by a moat and appears to float on the water.