Qs for the sound of racing cars at the new Daimler-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.
Automobile museums are not exactly a recent invention. In contrast to other commodities, the horseless carriage became a cult object and collector's item just a few years after its invention. The first museums consequently exhibited these objects in all their resplendent beauty, furnishing some technical details. In this respect the new Daimler-Benz Museum in Stuttgart has a much more comprehensive exhibition concept. Its ambition is to structure the fascination with Mercedes automobiles under various topics and to establish historical connections. In that context the entanglement of the group during the Nazi-era and World War II is not ignored and even their participation in forced labour is explicitly stated.
Nevertheless, the highly polished automobiles from the first motor carriage to the record breaking racing cars and Unimog utility vehicles, remain literally in the spotlights and constitute the visual heart of this collection. All this is presented within an architectural structure that emits its very own charm, whether it is viewed from the surrounding expressways or from inside the building itself. The building was design by UN Studio, Amsterdam and was inspired by the DNA double helix. After an initial lift journey to the top floor to the earliest exhibits, visitors are guided in soft spirals down towards the most recent developments.
In an exhibition space comprising sixteen thousand five hundred square metres, which extends over nine levels, one hundred and sixty vehicles and hundreds of other exhibits are presented in two interconnecting round tours. The exhibition itself is the concept of the HG Merz Company, an architectural practice specialising in museum and exhibition design, which has arranged 'mythology spaces' along one of the round tours that covers the history of the brand in chronological order. The second round tour groups the wealth of vehicles in five topical rooms, including for the first time, the history of the Daimler Benz utility vehicles. In 'The fascination of technology' exhibition area the visitors get an insight into the working environment of the engineer as well as an insight into future developments.
In contrast to the public museums and especially the art museums in Stuttgart, of which there is an abundance, the approach of this private brand museum is strongly geared towards identification and emotionalization. Intentionally evoked fascination overpowers the more down to earth technical aspects. This is successfully achieved within this space through experience that captures the visitor right from the beginning, making them forget that even in an automobile museum nothing is moving. The architect Ben van Berkel and the creators of the exhibition have succeeded admirably in this respect. At the finish on the ground floor, where both round tours meet, you can almost forget for a few moments that you are really inside a gigantic multi-storey car park. On a steep curved slope, racing cars that cover more than a hundred years of history are arranged in a virtual race. Video projections create a Le Mans type atmosphere, while a deep roar of the engines that numb the senses is re-created through eight d&b audiotechnik Q1 loudspeakers with four Q subwoofers installed along the curve: a true symphony to the ears of motoring enthusiasts. Mevis.tv based in Stuttgart, installed these systems plus countless E0 loudspeakers positioned throughout the museum for announcements and muzak.
The official opening of the museum took place on May 19th 2006 with an enormous noise throughout the entire range of media right through to the arts pages of the national newspapers. On the first weekend, when admission was free, long queues formed in front of the entrance, with people standing in line for up to two hours. However, neither the wait nor the lashing rain quenched the enthusiasm of the thirty thousand odd visitors. The resounding comments were, 'It was definitely worth it.'