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100 Years of German History on Wheels

The BMW group is marking its 100th anniversary this year by holding a temporary exhibition showcasing the company’s history, from 1916 up to the present, through a display of 100 “masterpieces”. We travelled to Munich to witness the inauguration of this landmark exhibition. There we learned both the history of this emblematic automaker and of Germany, and retraced its technological evolution over the last century.

The Building

The museum is housed in a futuristic complex called BMW Welt, ideally located near the Olympiapark. The venue not only serves automobile enthusiasts, as it also hosts regular exhibitions on themes related to technology, design and innovation. Designed by the Austrian architect’s studio, Coop Himmelb(l)au, it took four years to build. It was originally slated to open for the final stage of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but it wasn’t completed in time, and eventually opened a year later. It is a vibrant building as it can be adapted to a variety of uses – it can operate as a market, a communications centre and also a meeting point for the exchange of ideas.

This is a modern building designed to be experienced with the five senses. Here you can see, hear and feel technology and design. It features a permanent auto exhibition, among other content. Prominent, too, is the Junior Campus, a place where children learn how to approach technology in an entertaining and edifying manner.

The Museum

The BMW Museum is a multi-purpose space which features presentations of new BMW car models, among other things. The museum interior is arranged into key sections, namely seven great thematic areas, each set within its own environment and endowed with a distinct aesthetic. On our visit, we learned that the main idea behind the conceptualisation of the museum space was to exploit the carmaker’s history as an expression of its modern, sophisticated character, one in which innovative technology is at the forefront, and design is used to enthral at first sight. However, cars are not the only exhibits here, as you will also see motorcycles and all kinds of technology as applied to motor sports. Also on display is the latest motor invention by the Bavarian automaker.

100 Masterpieces

BMW celebrates its 100th anniversary this month, and one of the main events they are hosting is the show, 100 Masterpieces, a temporary exhibition showcasing the company’s history from 1916 to the present. To this end, 100 works have been selected to exemplify one of the most innovative companies in the world. It is a journey through different periods and the display is spectacular.

The works are displayed within a hemispherical building on five platforms which stand for five specific periods through which the company’s history is presented. As is to be expected, the exhibition starts with the first “masterpiece” of BMW – the founding in 1916 of Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works). From here on, the journey through time moves between posters of different eras, each of which closely reflects the corresponding art avant-gardes of those times. The following section is dedicated to the company staff. Here, the focus is on the legion of workers, each of whom played their part in the construction of the German colossus. This section also touches on such aspects of the business as health, architecture, internationalism, production, corporate culture and sustainability. The itinerary is chronological and gradually reveals achievements of all kinds, notably motorbikes like the incredible R35, the near-pioneering R12, the striking K1, the Dakar-winning GS, and the innovative R NineT. And, automobiles – the latest BMW 7 Series, the legendary James Bond Z8, the iconic Mini Cooper, the amazing Isetta, a period trend-setter, and the futuristic i3 and i8. They have all made history at BMW, as has the production of aircraft engines. The exhibition also features a number of milestones in motor racing. We were particularly impressed by the display of rare mock-ups, films and photographs, as well as various preliminary sketches of fantasy prototypes. In all, the exhibition goes far beyond pleasing four-wheel fanatics. It is more of a lesson in history, aesthetics, design and sociology presented in a highly attractive fashion.

Don’t pass up the chance to discover the ins and outs of one of the icons of international motoring. Check out our flights here. The exhibition runs until 30 September 2017.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by Germany Travel