A heritage for the future
The new museum from one of the world's oldest motor manufacturers will open on 19th May in Stuttgart. Built in just two years, it is the only museum in the world able to present the 120-year history of the automotive industry from day one. The architects were the famous Dutch practice of Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos.
DaimlerChrysler says that the architecture illustrates the genetic make-up of the brand. The interior of the building is modelled on the double-helix structure of the DNA spiral which carries the human genes. This in turn illustrates the original philosophy of the Mercedes-Benz brand, namely the continuous invention of completely new things to maintain personal mobility – from the invention of the automobile to the future-oriented vision of accident–free driving.
During their tour of the Museum (at least 2-hours), visitors will experience the 120-year history of the automobile as a journey through time. A lift takes them to the uppermost level of the Museum, from where two sweeping tour routes spiral down through nine levels to the starting point. Along the first tour route there are seven "Legend rooms" which relate the story of the brand in chronological order.
The second tour route groups the enormous display of vehicles into five separate "Collection rooms" which present the huge variety of the brand portfolio over time. As a completely new feature, the new Museum also documents the more than 100-year commercial vehicle history of the company.
Visitors are able to switch between the two tour routes at any time. Both end at the banked curve - "Silver Arrows – Races and Records" – where the Mercedes legend is experienced at first hand. This display is supplemented with "The Fascination of Technology" exhibition, which provides a look at the day-to-day work of the engineers and affords a glimpse into the future of the automobile. This detailed picture of the Mercedes-Benz brand consists of more than 1500 exhibits, of which 160 are vehicle exhibits.
According to Max-Gerrit von Pein, the Chief Executive of Mercedes-Benz Museum GmbH and Director of DaimlerChrysler Heritage, "The Mercedes-Benz Museum is a unique location where the history of the automobile and the aura surrounding the Mercedes-Benz brand from the early days to the present can best be experienced in a completely new and exciting way".
Emotional finale at the banked curve
Both the Legend and Collection tours end up at "Races and Records", where a steeply banked curve which takes up practically all the space becomes a vertical, cylindrical wall studded with famous, record-breaking cars. "Races and Records is the emotional finale to a tour of the Museum", says HG Merz.
• Legend Room 1: Pioneers – The Invention of the Automobile, 1886 to 1900
• Legend Room 2: Mercedes – The Birth of the Brand, 1900 to 1914
• Legend Room 3: Times of Change – Diesels and Superchargers, 1914 to 1945
• Legend Room 4: Post-war Miracle– Form and Diversity, 1945 to 1960
• Legend Room 5: Visionaries – Safety and the Environment, 1960 to 1982
• Legend Room 6: Moving the World – Global and Individual, 1982 to the present day
• Legend Room 7: Silver Arrows – Races and Records
The banked curve gradually becomes a vertical wall to which famous record-breaking cars are affixed: the selection ranges from the three-axle T 80 and the record-breaking twelve-cylinder W 125 of 1938 to the record-breaking diesel C 111 III of 1978 and the 190 E 2.3-16 of 1983, plus the very recent E 320 CDI, which covered a distance of 100,000 miles at an average speed of 224 km/h in Laredo, Texas in 2005.
• Collection 1: Gallery of Voyagers
• Collection 2: Gallery of Carriers
• Collection 3: Gallery of Helpers
• Collection 4: Gallery of Celebrities
• Collection 5: Gallery of Heroes
The Mercedes-Benz Museum is easy to reach by all means of transport.
The Museum's address is:
Mercedes-Benz Museum GmbH
Text: Classic Driver
ClassicInside - The Classic Driver Newsletter