Ten years in its new home

Feb 12, 2016
A new home for the Mercedes-Benz brand: the Mercedes-Benz Museum opened its doors on 19 May 2006, in a spectacular new building outside the gates of the plant in Untertürkheim. Since then it has become a landmark, with more than 7.1 million visitors to date (as of 31 Dec. 2015). The Museum constantly reinvents itself to offer nothing but the best to visitors to the exhibition and guests attending events.
The Museum is an extraordinary, captivating and inspiring place: since it was opened in 2006, more than seven million people have come away delighted from the new Mercedes-Benz Museum. Here they find out first hand how history, architecture, presentation and a lively programme of events combine to create a fully rounded experience.
There was a huge rush after the opening. More than 650,000 visitors came between May and December 2006, and in 2007 the figure was over 860,000. The exhibition, guided tours and special displays, cinema and music, events for children and families, prestigious classic vehicle auctions and much more besides are increasingly popular attractions. Right from the start in 2006, the Museum attracted around 50,000 visitors just for the grand finale of the Mercedes-Benz motorsport season, the "Stars & Cars" event. And 2007, the first full operating year in the new location, saw the start of two programmes which have since developed into classic Museum events: The Open Air Cinema with the spectacular backdrop of the building, and participation in the "Long Night of Museums". In 2007 this first Museum night alone attracted around 15,000 visitors. The Mercedes-Benz Museum soon gained an excellent reputation well beyond the region as a venue for events and experiences.
As early as 2000, the then DaimlerChrysler AG began to formulate very precise ideas of what and how much should be shown in the new museum. It was for example laid down that commercial vehicles should also have their place in the new museum alongside the passenger cars and racing cars, so as to present a full picture of the Mercedes-Benz brand. The museum planners HG Merz then developed an extensive and finely coordinated overall concept from all the wishes and requirements. It was only with this concept in hand that the company went in search of a suitable building. It found it in a draft design by UNStudio Ben van Berkel, which closely incorporated the display concept developed by HG Merz and created a tailor-made outer skin to house it. The resulting building was an architectural masterpiece, and soon became one of Stuttgart's city sights. The architecture is imposingly self-assured, yet it gives the entire stage to the exhibits it contains. A new museum building could hardly be more right for its purpose.
The building is a real Mercedes-Benz
The building with its core of double-helix concrete elements was planned and constructed at the limits of what was then technically feasible in just three years. In the process, all those involved dependably kept to the timeplan and budgetary limit of € 150 million (building including fixtures and furnishings). All this was made possible by the use of the latest computer technology – at the time this was completely uncharted territory in the complexity required. Apart from the very sophisticated concrete structure, the technical solutions realised in the process include innovations such as the world's highest smoke ventilation tornado and a special crane capable of lifting even trucks weighing up to 20 tonnes to Level 7. The Museum is also the home of superlatives where its technical features are concerned.
The fact that the Mercedes-Benz Museum still looks fresh and modern after ten years – both aesthetically and technically – reflects values which classic automobile enthusiasts immediately associate with Mercedes-Benz vehicles. This view is shared by Hugo Daiber, who supervised the Museum's construction from 2003 to 2006 in his position as general manager of the subsidiary company DaimlerChrysler Immobilien, and today's Daimler Real Estate: "This building is a real Mercedes-Benz."
Success right from the start – and in the future
Mercedes-Benz already had an established museum tradition when the brand decided on the new project. The first museum-like presentations were already made in the early 20th century. Systematic establishment of the historical vehicle collection commenced in the 1920s. The first Mercedes-Benz Museum, which was aimed at the wider public, was opened in 1936 in a production building at the Untertürkheim plant. The Museum became increasingly well-known, also internationally, after its reopening in 1951, and was then housed in the first purpose-built building. The new Museum opened its doors in 1961, coinciding with the "75th anniversary of motorised transport". The presentation was fundamentally revised to mark the "100 Years of the Automobile" anniversary in 1986. The success continued – in 2004 a new record was set with over 500,000 visitors.
However the vehicle portfolio was growing constantly, and it was felt that commercial vehicles should at last be included in the brand presentation. This was not feasible within the available space. So at the start of the new millennium, the decision was taken to construct a new Mercedes-Benz Museum – a brave step to take considering the size of such a project, but also the correct one. As was confirmed right from the start.
The fascination of the Mercedes-Benz Museum stems from the spectacular presentation of an eventful history ranging from the invention of the automobile to its future. No other company can relate this history as comprehensively as Mercedes-Benz. Many of the ideas for the subject matter and exhibits come from the brand itself and its products. It is the long and eventful brand tradition that provides the potential for the many-faceted future of the Museum, which is constantly able to reinvent itself and open up fresh perspectives. This is ensured by various temporary exhibitions and presentations, as well as new impulses in the permanent displays. In December 2015, marking the end of the most successful motorsport season since 1955, championship cars from Formula 1 and the DTM joined the exciting array of motor racing history on the Museum's banked curve. They were unveiled in the presence of racing drivers Lewis Hamilton and Pascal Wehrlein: the F1 W05 Hybrid of 2014 and the Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM of 2015.
Yet it is not only the Mercedes-Benz Museum itself that has continuously developed over the last ten years, creating new impulses and ideas for the future: The worldwide automotive museum sector received an enormous impulse with the opening of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in 2006, and its effects are still felt today. The Stuttgart-based company continues to show great commitment to this development: a second museum is currently under construction in Peking. This follows a concept tailored to the circumstances in China, and will unmistakably be one thing: likewise a real Mercedes-Benz.
Mercedes-Benz Museum, exterior shot from 2015.
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Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart, external shot from 2015
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