Story and photos by Bardia Khajenoori
U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart
From modern art to luxury cars and dinosaurs to local wine, Stuttgart’s museums offer something for everyone. They’re great places to explore anytime, but especially to escape from rain, snow, or excessive heat — just not on Mondays, when museums are generally closed.
Many of them instituted measures such as required pre-booking and capacity controls upon reopening after forced COVID closures, but most have returned to allowing spontaneous visitors. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to check on operating hours and visiting conditions beforehand. Some have regular opportunities for free entry to some or all exhibitions (such as Wednesdays at the Staatsgalerie, or Thursdays after 6 p.m. at the House of History). Others, such as the Porsche and Mercedes-Benz Museums, have discounted tickets available for those entering within two-to-three hours of closing time.
You may be required to show 2G (vaccinated or recovered) or 3G (vaccinated, recovered, or tested) documentation, depending on the statewide regulations in place at the time. You may also be asked to check-in or provide contact information for the purposes of contact tracing.
All museums are located in Stuttgart unless otherwise noted, and the list is by no means exhaustive.
This overview is provided as a courtesy to help community members explore local culture and does not imply federal endorsement. Please check days and hours of operation before visiting.
Mercedes Benz-Museum: Covering the development of not only the brand, but the automobile itself, its nine levels provide plenty of engaging information even for people who may not normally be interested in a car museum. It weaves in social, political, and technological changes happening globally alongside in-house design innovations, and integrates exhibition themes into the building itself; for example, the display area showcasing new safety features has walls lined with airbag material.
Porsche Museum: A striking building directly adjacent to an S-Bahn station (Neuwirtshaus – Porscheplatz) houses dozens of Porsche vehicles from all periods of the company’s history, from early models to modern racecars. Focus is placed on design and technical innovation. Around 80 cars are on display at any given time, as well as a number of interactive experiences including “sound showers.”
Both Mercedes-Benz and Porsche generally offer factory tours in addition to their museum experiences. Availability during COVID times will vary.
City Museum Stuttgart (StadtPalais, Museum für Stuttgart): The permanent exhibition at this free museum tells the story of Stuttgart and its people from the 1700s through the present day. English translations are abundant. The building itself, centrally located at Charlottenplatz, was formerly the home of the last king of Württemberg, and functioned as the city’s postwar library until 2011.
Linden Museum: The city’s museum of world cultures has various permanent exhibitions revolving around a multitude of artifacts from different eras and civilizations. It’s a trip around the world without leaving town. Audio guides are available in English.
Württemberg State Museum (Landesmuseum Württemberg): Housed in Stuttgart’s Altes Schloss (Old Castle), the origins of this free museum date back to the “cabinet of curiosities” maintained by 15th-century dukes. Various pieces of antiquity present the history of the region dating from the Stone Age to the Kingdom of Württemberg. English audio guides are available. A small memorial museum dedicated to the Stauffenberg brothers, who were part of a 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, is located on the side of the museum facing Karlsplatz. Due to building renovation work, a substitute exhibition is available in the House of History until summer 2022.
Baden-Württemberg House of History (Haus der Geschichte Baden-Württemberg): Located in the middle of Stuttgart’s “cultural mile,” this museum brings to life over 200 years of history and politics in the region which became Baden-Württemberg. Many of its presentation concepts are modern and immersive, and an English audioguide can help compensate for a lack of translations in exhibition spaces.
Hotel Silber: Located between Karlsplatz and Charlottenplatz, the “Hotel Silber” has been associated with police forces for over half a century, including a period as the regional headquarters of the Gestapo, the secret police of the Nazi regime. The building has been renovated and reopened to host a museum and memorial site exploring the history and dynamics of the police forces across three political systems — the Weimar Republic, National Socialist dictatorship, and postwar democracy. An English language audio guide is available.
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart: The collection of the State Gallery spans thousands of works from the fourteenth century to the present day, with a diverse array of styles. Everything from Renaissance art to French impressionism and American pop art can be found within its walls. Entry to the permanent collection is free on Wednesdays. Its ‘new’ wing, completed in 1984 and designed by prizewinning architect James Stirling, is itself a work of art—it was tied for fifth in a 2010 survey to find the most important structures completed in the previous 40 years.
Kunstmuseum Stuttgart (Modern Art Museum): Those with a preference for modern and contemporary art will feel right at home at the Kunstmuseum, housed in the distinctive glass cube at Schlossplatz, Stuttgart’s main square. Its permanent collection includes a large number of pieces by the New Objectivist artist Otto Dix. Find an excellent view of the square and surrounding area by going to the top floor, near the entrance to the restaurant (no ticket required). The Kunstmuseum was recognized as Germany’s “Museum of the Year” for 2021.
Schauwerk Sindelfingen: A beautifully repurposed former production facility of a Sindelfingen-based refrigeration and air conditioning multinational plays host to a large collection of contemporary art as well as special exhibitions.
Museum Ritter (Waldenbuch): Chocoholics may be disappointed to learn that the Museum Ritter, located at the Ritter Sport complex, houses an impressive collection of geometric abstract art rather than tributes to their favorite sweet. Nevertheless, a relatively small but enjoyable free exhibition about the history of Ritter Sport and the chocolate making process is housed above the factory store in the same building. A specially marked pathway from the museum provides a short hike into the tranquility of the adjoining Schönbuch Nature Park.
The State Museum of Natural History: Stuttgart is housed in two locations on opposite sides of Rosenstein Park: the Museum am Löwentor (identifiable by the large dinosaurs outside) is home to the well-known paleontology collection, while Schloss Rosenstein focuses more on general natural history, biology, and ecology.
Carl-Zeiss Planetarium: The Planetarium, located next to the main train station, offers a selection of mostly science and education-focused presentations, along with music-related special events. Their website offers schedules, contact information, and an updated list of sold-out presentations, as reservations are highly recommended. Presentations can be simulcast in English with the use of a receiver and headset that can be borrowed at no charge, or through a downloadable mobile app with your own headphones.
Viniculture Museum (Weinbaumuseum): Stuttgart is a winemaking town, and the history and unique characteristics of the region’s viniculture is on full display at this museum located in the small hilltop district of Ulbach. Of course, tasting opportunities are also available. A visit to the museum should also include a stop at the nearby Württemberg Mausoleum (Grabkapelle auf dem Württemberg). The tombs of the area’s longest serving and most influential king, Wilhelm I of Württemberg, and his wife, Grand Duchess Katharina Pawlowna, are located inside the monument, which is perched on an exposed hilltop above a sea of vineyards.
Haus der Musik (House of Music): This collection of musical instruments, housed in one of the city’s oldest buildings, began with a donation from a Stuttgart piano maker in 1901 and is a worthwhile stop for music lovers. In addition to the historic and unique instruments displayed on the lower floors, you can craft your own sound on the top level with a wide array of playable instruments such as a theremin and the ‘Beathoven,’ a musical punching bag. The interactive component tends to be highly enjoyed by children, though all ages are welcome.
Pig Museum: One of Stuttgart’s most unique museums, and located inside the former administration building of the city’s main slaughterhouse, the Pig Museum is home to 25 themed rooms and more than 50,000 pig-related exhibits from around the world. An onsite restaurant and biergarten naturally offers a mix of pork dishes, as well as other Swabian delights.
Tram Museum (Strassenbahnwelt): Explore more than 150 years’ worth of local transportation history at the Tram Museum in Bad Cannstatt (a converted depot) amidst dozens of trams from different periods of history, some of which can be entered or viewed from underneath. Among the souvenirs for sale at the front desk are socks in the style of the Stuttgart U-Bahn seat pattern. On Sundays, a historic tram operates between the TV tower (Ruhbank Fernsehturm stop) and the Tram Museum. Ticket prices and schedules are found at the museum website.
Weissenhof Museum in the Le Corbusier House: Anyone with an interest in architecture and design will enjoy a visit to this home designed by Le Corbusier, which enjoys UNESCO World Heritage status as one of his 17 most innovative works across the globe. The house itself is one of several surviving buildings of the Weissenhof Estate, created for a 1927 building exhibition with contributions from some of the most well-known architects and designers in history.