On 16,500 square meters of exhibition space, the intriguing new building accommodates not only 160 vehicle exhibits but also numerous additional offers including restaurants and museum shops.
The building – A milestone of modern architecture
When approaching from the factory gates or indeed from the eastern fringe of Stuttgart, a view of a unique new building is awaiting the visitor. Designed by UN Studio, one of the world’s most highly esteemed architectural firms, the museum would be worth a visit for its architecture alone. Ben van Berkel, co-founder and director of UN Studio: “The Mercedes-Benz Museum combines a number of radical spatial principles with each other and thereby creates a completely new typology.”
The most conspicuous feature resulting from this novel approach is the route visitors take. Their tour of exploration does not start at ground level in the entrance area but at the topmost level where they are taken by lifts. From here, they can go on one of two tours running through the museum from the top downwards. The two routes meet at each level so that the visitor can decide time and again anew whether to continue on the Legend or Collection tour.
The building – A building serving as time machine
The structure of the Mercedes-Benz Museum is comparable to a cloverleaf, consisting in geometric terms of three overlapping circles with the center cut out to form a triangular atrium. From this core, semicircular areas are projecting which are alternately one or two stories high. By using an expressive design model, the architects of UN Studio succeeded in reconciling their ideas with respect to infrastructure, exhibition rooms, programs and overall structure.
Visitors start out on their tour at the building’s topmost level and from there move downwards through the chronologically arranged exhibition rooms, following the building’s outer circumference as if in a time machine. A line along which the visitor moves transforms into a wall, then into a ceiling, then into a room. The differences between line, area and space become blurred. The two different types of museum room are diametrically opposed in terms of their character. The Legend rooms are enclosed and artificially illuminated – like theaters. Upon entering them, you feel as if on a stage.
The Legend rooms, by contrast, are open and surrounded by huge panoramic windows which let in the daylight. The choice of route is up to the visitors’ intuition and individual preferences. They will, however, never lose their bearings, optimum orientation being provided by a well-thought-out guidance system.
The exhibition – A clearly defined concept right from the start
In its capacity as curator, the architecturalfirm hg merz was commissioned with the development of the exhibition concept for the new Mercedes-Benz Museum. The concept is based on the extensive vehicle collection and provides for the structuring of the presentation into Legend and Collection rooms, racing cars and The Fascination of Technology.
The subdivision of the exhibition into Legend and Collection rooms reflects the realization that the main functions of a museum are “depositing” and “exposing”. The Legend rooms expose individual outstanding vehicles from 120 years of Mercedes-Benz product history, while the Collection rooms act as show depots, providing space for a large number of commercial vehicles and passenger cars from the company’s extensive collection and designed to permit the frequent exchange of exhibits.
The exhibition – Two tours through history
The exhibits in the museum are allocated to two main areas: the Legend rooms and the Collection rooms. In addition there are two separate areas, “Races & Records” and “The Fascination of Technology”. On a kind of journey through time, the Legend rooms tell the story of the Mercedes-Benz brand from the beginnings of automotive invention through to the global expansion of the brand in the present time.
Each room is made up of three elements: Illustrated History, scene and workbench. The Illustrated History provides the visitor with general information about the major events in contemporary and corporate history. On the so-called scene in the center of each Legend room, the most important vehicle icons and product innovations of the Mercedes-Benz brand from a specific era are displayed. The workbenches, finally, convey information about the most important technical and stylistic innovations. A fourth module can be found throughout the museum: the “33 Extras”. They remind visitors of the phenomenal changes triggered by the invention of the automobile for mankind.
The Collection rooms show the wealth and diversity of the vehicles from Mercedes-Benz. With this abundance of exhibits, the Collection rooms reflect the experience, competence and perfection across the entire width of automotive products. In this way, they move the performance of the brand into the focus on a permanent basis. Reminiscent of thematic collections in classic museums, these rooms display the greatest possible number of vehicles and complementary exhibits in a matter-of-fact environment. Unlike the chronologically arranged Legend rooms, the Collection rooms are “depots”, thematically arranged according to types of vehicle usage:
- travel (“Gallery of Voyagers”), goods transportation (“Gallery of Carriers”), help and
- services (“Gallery of Helpers”) and representation (“Gallery of Celebrities”). The fifth
- Collection room, the “Gallery of Heroes”, presents Mercedes-Benz vehicles as everyday heroes.
- Finally, the “Silver Arrows – Races & Records” room forms the emotional highlight of the museum tour. This room – probably the most impressive one – encompasses everything that makes this unique museum stand out: intriguing engineering, the beauty of design, and the enthusiasm for the history of a great brand.
The room tells the story of the great motorsport tradition of Mercedes-Benz with emotional pictures and vehicles, while reminding visitors of the great significance of motorsport for motoring in general and the Mercedes-Benz brand in particular.
With levels eight through to one being dedicated to the history of the brand’s origins in the Mercedes-Benz Museum, “The Fascination of Technology” finally deals with the present and, above all, the future. This exhibition unit shows the visionary commitment of the brand, the accomplishments of the company’s staff and their passion in improving safety and environmental compatibility, as well as the search for innovations, using, among other things, research
cars (concept cars) and laboratory setups.
9.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.
Service counters close at 5.00 pm.
Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Mondays.