Story & photos by Carola Meusel
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office
Stuttgart is well known for its automobile industry, especially Mercedes-Benz. People interested in taking a closer look at the “car with the star” from Janis Joplin’s 1970 hit can visit the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt.
The museum boasts 125 years of automobile history, with 160 vehicles and 1,500 exhibits displayed throughout nine floors.
According to a Mercedes-Benz Museum press release, the museum’s interior design follows the structure of a DNA double helix representing the Mercedes-Benz vision of continuously inventing new and advanced products. The helix also divides the exhibition into two tours: “Mythosräume,” or legend rooms, and “Collectionsräume,” or collection rooms.
The legend rooms visualize the development of the Mercedes-Benz brand by taking visitors back in time to 1886 and forward to today’s innovations, such as emission-free mobility.
The collection rooms feature the diversity of Mercedes-Benz vehicles and their use in everyday life. Visitors can always switch between the two tours.
When arriving at the museum, visitors are typically impressed with the futuristic interior design, according to Anselm Vogt-Moykopf, a museum tour guide.
“The exhibition areas are all open, but connected via ramps. Throughout the museum, visitors will not find one closed room or linear wall,” he added.
Bullet-shaped elevators take visitors to the upper floor of the museum. According to Vogt-Moykopf, the elevator ride can be considered as a preview, preparing visitors for the exhibitions.
During the ride, patrons can look out the window to see the various exhibition areas while engine sounds inside and projected videos on the outside walls make for a unique experience.
Exiting the elevator, people find themselves in the year 1886. Here, they’re introduced to the very beginning of the brand: the “Grandfather Clock,” or “Standuhr” engine, a single-cylinder engine developed by engineers Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, and Daimler’s motorized carriage, the world’s first four-wheeled motorized vehicle with a gas engine.
The “Patent Motorwagen Nummer 1,” or Benz Patent Motor Car, designed by engineer Carl Benz, known as the world’s first three-wheeled automobile with a combustion engine, is also displayed.
Following the legend rooms tour, seven exhibition areas guide visitors from the invention of the automobile to the history of the Mercedes-Benz brand while overlapping political and historical events, such as World War I and II.
According to Vogt-Moykopf, the cars are always located in the center of the room to mark the focal point of attention.
“Everything in the museum revolves around the vehicles. The cars are highlighted — almost like on a theater stage,” Vogt-Moykopf said.
The oldest Mercedes from 1902, the Mercedes Simplex, for example, is positioned underneath Swarovski crystal lights while classical music plays in the background.
“This setting is a very elegant presentation of the car,” Vogt-Moykopf said.
Visitors can look at the vehicles displayed on the right and on the left, photos, sketches and memorabilia chronologically illustrate the development of the brand into its contemporary context.
The exhibits also are embedded in the museum’s architecture.
Granite floors cast impressive reflections of the vehicles, according to Vogt-Moykopf. Many rooms even feature materials used for car manufacturing, such as brass walls, the most important material for producing engines.
Another architectural tweak is that the museum is located next to the B14 federal highway.
“Since the cars are exhibits and therefore static, the highway is meant to bring the dynamic of driving back into the museum,” Vogt-Moykopf said.
The tour of the collection rooms features different themes to illustrate the use of Mercedes-Benz vehicles in everyday situations, such as waste management, technical and transportation support. Themes range from travel by bus or cab, to passenger cars and transportation of cargo.
At the Gallery of Helpers, emergency vehicles are displayed. The Gallery of Celebrities features vehicles driven by people such as Princess Diana and Ringo Starr, or featured in movies, such as the ML 320 Jeep in “Jurassic Park.”
The legend and collection tours unite at the Silver Arrows-Races and Records exhibition.
Here, racing cars are displayed and visitors can get a feel for the fast and furious world of motor sports with two simulators.
The famous Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows are also displayed, and video monitors showcase historic motor races.
The Fascination of Technology exhibit marks the end of the tour, and gives visitors a glimpse into the future with displays of new technical innovations.
According to Vogt-Moykopf, the Mercedes-Benz Museum offers something for everyone, whether car enthusiasts, architecture or history buffs. And at the end of their museum day, some people may say: “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz.”
The Mercedes Benz Museum is located at Mercedestrasse 100, 70372 Stuttgart.
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Children 14 years or younger have free entrance.
English guided tours are offered Tuesday to Sunday at 11 a.m.
The museum also offers hands-on activities for children and children’s tours.
The museum also boasts a restaurant offering fine regional meals and, every second Sunday of the month, brunch. The restaurant is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The “Café-Bar” offers snacks, coffee and cake and is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information, call civ. 0711-17-30000 or visit www.mercedes-benz-classic.com.