From the birth of automobiles to super modern luxury, the Mercedes-Benz Museum takes visitors on a journey.
As the birthplace of the automobile and the home of major automobile manufacturers including Porsche, Volkswagen, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, Germany is a car enthusiasts dream. In 1886, Karl Benz introduced the first German car, Motorwagen. And that first car produced more than a century ago continues to be a trendsetter for the country’s auto industry. Innovation drives Germany’s car manufacturing industry with every car model offering something new to showcase.
As the fourth biggest producer of cars in the world, Germany produces six million cars within the country and another 5.5 million abroad. There are several museums in the country with dedicated auto galleries but one of the most impressive is the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. The museum chronicles the 130 year history of the auto industry in a single continuous timeline. The sleek contemporary building has nine levels and covers a floor space of over 177,600 square feet. The building’s interior is inspired by the double helix structure of the DNA spiral that carries the human genome – an illustration of the Mercedes-Benz brand philosophy to continuously create products to advance the cause of human mobility. Following the principle, “The future is rooted in the past,” the museum is truly a place of innovation.
The Mercedes-Benz museum celebrates its 10th anniversary
2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the Mercedes-Benz Museum. Since its opening, over seven million people have visited the museum to experience its monumental tribute to the history of the automobile. Throughout 2016, special events and exhibits will be added to the museum’s calendar to mark the anniversary.
A museum you can spend days in, even if you’re not a fan of cars (or museums)
While I appreciate automobiles, I don’t typically spend much time in auto museums, but this place was incredible and I could have wandered around for days. Elevators reminiscent of Star Trek beamed me up to the top level of the museum and back to the year 1886. From there, I gradually spiraled my way down through the extensive collection of over 1,500 exhibits and 160 vehicles. The museum intricately weaves the story of the automobile with the historical events of each decade. Even the music playing in each section matches the time period – so you know you’ll be hearing some disco in the 1970s section of the museum!
Gullwing cars, Formula 1 racers and driving simulators that will keep your kids thrilled
There are plenty of areas for children including the sparkling silver Formula 1 vehicles and fascinating gullwing models, along with the everyday heroes – fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances. Other favorites are the Unimog and the Formula 1 Medical Car. Toddlers can play grown-up by clambering into a genuine refuse truck and a replica of the 1974 World Cup coach. Children over 4’6” tall can take a high-speed trip in a driving simulator.
Free audio guides for children up to age 14 recount exciting stories in German and English spanning the history of the automobile from invention to the present day. A discovery book for children ages 6 and older is also available free of charge at the ticket counter.
From sustainable tech to celebrities, the Mercedes-Benz story told room by room
Exhibitions throughout the museum are divided into Legend and Collection rooms. The Legend rooms narrate the history of the brand chronologically while the Collection rooms are arranged thematically and document the wealth and diversity of the brand.
Each Legend room presents a particular era by developing a central theme and makes the “Mercedes legend” tangible.
- Legend 1: Pioneers – The Invention of the Automobile, 1886 to 1900
- Legend 2: Mercedes – Birth of the Brand, 1900 to 1914
- Legend 3: Times of Change – Diesel and Supercharger, 1914 to 1945
- Legend 4: Post-war Miracle – Form and Diversity, 1945 to 1960
- Legend 5: Visionaries – Safety and Environment, 1960 to 1982
- Legend 6: New Start – The Road to Emission-free Mobility
- Legend 7: Silver Arrows – Races & Records
The generously designed, bright daylight-lit Collection rooms accommodate a large number of vehicles. Buses, taxis, trucks, fire-fighting vehicles and ambulances, along with celebrities’ vehicles including the Pope-mobile, underscore the diversity of the brand’s products. There are five collection themes:
- Gallery of Voyagers
- Gallery of Carriers
- Gallery of Helpers
- Gallery of Celebrities
- My Mercedes-Benz/special exhibition
And finally, something for the speed demon in the family: a tribute to motorsports
Both the Legend and Collection tours end up at the “Silver Arrows – Races & Records” display, where a steep banked curve stands for the magic moments of the Mercedes-Benz motorsport annals. I took a seat on the grandstand opposite the banked curve to take in the impressive display as film footage of historic motor races played on six different monitors.
The banked curve gradually becomes a spectacular vertical wall on which inimitable record-breaking cars are mounted. The display includes the record-breaking W 125 of 1938, which posted the highest speed ever attained on a public road: 432.7 km/h (268.867 mph), and the Solarmobile, which won the Tour de Sol from Lake Constance to Lake Geneva in the mid-1980s. In addition, five large platforms present experimental vehicles past and present. These exhibits link the museum tour with the Fascination of Technology display area, which showcases the development of design at Mercedes-Benz.
Note: I was a guest of the Mercedes-Benz Museum; opinions expressed are my own.