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Cars Pool

by Sophie Kalkreuth
04 May 2017

Brush up on your car IQ with a visit to leading automobile museums around the world

A car museum may seem like an unlikely enterprise — most car lovers would rather experience metal in motion than parked in a gallery — but in recent years, car museums have graduated from souped-up storerooms near car factories to must-see meccas for speed freaks, gear nuts and anyone interested in design innovation. From regal halls in the Netherlands to modern galleries in Los Angeles, we’ve rounded up six car museums worth traveling for.

  • PORSCHE MUSEUM, STUTTGART, GERMANY
  • MERCEDES-BENZ MUSEUM, STUTTGART, GERMANY
  • THE PETERSEN MUSEUM, LOS ANGELES, USA
  • MUSEO ENZO FERRARI, MODENA, ITALY
  • CITé DE L'ATOMOBILE (AKA THE SCHLUMPF COLLECTION), MULHOUSE, FRANCE
  • LOUWMAN MUSEUM, THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS

Porsche Museum, Stuttgart, Germany

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Few names in the automotive world are as synonymous with performance as Porsche, so it’s not surprising the Porsche Museum marries cutting-edge design with flawless function. Designed by Viennese firm Delugan Meissl Associated Architects at a cost of €100 million the museum is supported by just three V-shaped columns and appears to defy the laws of physics as it floats above the plaza.

Inside, the building includes more than 60,000 square feet of floor space and features 80 vehicles ranging from legendary racecars to stunning prototypes. Highlights include the first Porsche-badged vehicle ever produced, the 1948 356 ‘roadster’, as well as other classics like the 550, 911 and 917. By not roping the vehicles off, the gallery succeeds in creating an interactive experience that is heightened by access to a 1,000 sq m workshop where vehicles are restored and prepped for racing.

The gallery also features immersive “sound showers” that let visitors bask in the aural excellence of Porsche engines, including the latest 911 and the Revolution motorcycle engine the company designed for Harley-Davidson.

For more information, click here

  • PORSCHE MUSEUM, STUTTGART, GERMANY
  • MERCEDES-BENZ MUSEUM, STUTTGART, GERMANY
  • THE PETERSEN MUSEUM, LOS ANGELES, USA
  • MUSEO ENZO FERRARI, MODENA, ITALY
  • CITé DE L'ATOMOBILE (AKA THE SCHLUMPF COLLECTION), MULHOUSE, FRANCE
  • LOUWMAN MUSEUM, THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS

Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart, Germany

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Stuttgart’s other cutting-edge car gallery is the Mercedes-Benz Museum, an aluminum and glass structure designed by Dutch architecture firm UN Studio at a cost of €150 million. The colossal building, which resembles a spiraling double helix, exhibits over 160 vehicles across nine levels and 178,000 square feet of floor space. No doors or right angles are to be found within the space-age interiors that feature free flowing spaces dedicated to the lineage of the brand’s 120-year old heritage.

Inside the ‘Gallery of Names’, visitors can catch a glimpse of storied celebrity car models, including Prince Diana’s red 1991 500 SL, a yellow bus used by the German football team in 1974, and a special Mercedes 770 Grand Pullman limousine built for Japanese Emperor Hirohito in 1935. Recent exhibition highlights include “New start - The Road to Emission-free Mobility,” which presented systems ranging from the optimized combustion engine through to electric, hybrid and flue-cell technologies to illustrate the present and future challenges facing the automotive industry.

For more information, click here

  • PORSCHE MUSEUM, STUTTGART, GERMANY
  • MERCEDES-BENZ MUSEUM, STUTTGART, GERMANY
  • THE PETERSEN MUSEUM, LOS ANGELES, USA
  • MUSEO ENZO FERRARI, MODENA, ITALY
  • CITé DE L'ATOMOBILE (AKA THE SCHLUMPF COLLECTION), MULHOUSE, FRANCE
  • LOUWMAN MUSEUM, THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS

The Petersen Museum, Los Angeles, USA

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In 2015, following a US$90 million renovation, the Petersen Automotive Museum re-opened along L.A.’s Museum Row shrouded in stunning ribbons of stainless steel. Inside, a three-story spiral staircase now transports visitors through 25 galleries and over 95,000 square feet of exhibition space packed with race cars, famous Hollywood vehicles and seminal motorcycles.

Highlights from the Hollywood Gallery include the Batmobile, the Magnum P. I. Ferrari and several vehicles from Spectre, the latest James Bond movie. There is also a Pixar Cars Mechanical Institute where augmented reality technology teaches children how cars work, and a Production Gallery presented by Maserati, which shows how a luxury car goes from rendering to model to finished vehicle. On the Peter and Merle Mullin Artistry Floor some of the finest coach-built cars of the Art Deco era are on exhibit, including the 1936 Type 57c Bugatti Atlantic, the 1938 Talbot-Lago T15OC SS Figoni et Falaschi Teardrop, and more. While you’re in California, the Mullin Car Museum in Oxnard, CA is also worth a trip.

For more information, click here

  • PORSCHE MUSEUM, STUTTGART, GERMANY
  • MERCEDES-BENZ MUSEUM, STUTTGART, GERMANY
  • THE PETERSEN MUSEUM, LOS ANGELES, USA
  • MUSEO ENZO FERRARI, MODENA, ITALY
  • CITé DE L'ATOMOBILE (AKA THE SCHLUMPF COLLECTION), MULHOUSE, FRANCE
  • LOUWMAN MUSEUM, THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS

Museo Enzo Ferrari, Modena, Italy

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It’s hard to miss the new Museo Enzo Ferrari, which opened its doors in 2012. The stylized structure borrows design cues from 1950s-era race cars with its sculpted yellow aluminum roof ‘bonnet’ and ‘cooling vent’ incisions that allow natural ventilation and light to enter the exhibition space.

But the cheerful yellow building is only half of the package; the new museum also includes the restored workshop of Enzo Ferrari’s father, which now houses Ferrari’s Engines Museum. Inside the new gallery pavilion, classic Ferrari’s like the Testarossa, Dino, 410S and 166 MM Barchetta hover effortlessly on specially designed platforms, while newer models like the Enzo and F40 are parked nearby.

The new space also functions as a multimedia room where audio and video clips, shown via a total of 19 projectors, show and unpublished Ferrari films and photographs next to select Enzo memorabilia and mementos.

For more information, click here

 

  • PORSCHE MUSEUM, STUTTGART, GERMANY
  • MERCEDES-BENZ MUSEUM, STUTTGART, GERMANY
  • THE PETERSEN MUSEUM, LOS ANGELES, USA
  • MUSEO ENZO FERRARI, MODENA, ITALY
  • CITé DE L'ATOMOBILE (AKA THE SCHLUMPF COLLECTION), MULHOUSE, FRANCE
  • LOUWMAN MUSEUM, THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS

Cité de l'Atomobile (aka the Schlumpf Collection), Mulhouse, France

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If Bugatti is your thing, the Schlumpf Collection — the private collection of brothers Fritz and Hans Schlumpf — is a must-see. The Swiss brothers made their fortune in the textile industry and, starting in the late 1950s, they slowly amassed a collection of hundreds of rare and expensive cars.

In 1962, Fritz bought nearly 50 Bugattis. In the spring of 1963, he acquired 18 of Ettore Bugatti's personal cars, including the Bugatti Royale Coupé Napoléon. Today, the museum boasts the world’s largest Bugatti collection (123 cars) including three of just seven existing Royales, the first Veryon and various racers from the 1930s. With 520 vehicles in total, the collection also includes a range of endurance cars, F1's, rally cars and early-twentieth century models. The museum is a three-hour TGV train ride from Paris — or, if you could drive the full 480 kilometers in a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport, just over hour’s drive.

For more information, click here

  • PORSCHE MUSEUM, STUTTGART, GERMANY
  • MERCEDES-BENZ MUSEUM, STUTTGART, GERMANY
  • THE PETERSEN MUSEUM, LOS ANGELES, USA
  • MUSEO ENZO FERRARI, MODENA, ITALY
  • CITé DE L'ATOMOBILE (AKA THE SCHLUMPF COLLECTION), MULHOUSE, FRANCE
  • LOUWMAN MUSEUM, THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS

Louwman Museum, The Hague, Netherlands

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Located on luscious landscaped grounds beside the Royal Palace, the Louwman Museum includes over 250 historic cars from the extensive private collections of Piet Louwman and his son Evert Louwman. Starting in 1886, the year the first automobile was built, the museum illustrates the chronological development of motor vehicles.

Piet Louwman’s first purchase, a 1914 Dodge, is prominently featured, and the exhibition juxtaposes pioneering automobiles from the late 19th century alongside racing cars, sports cars and luxury limousines. The vast building, which spans over 100,000 square feet, was designed by American architect Michael Graves and is loosely based on a traditional Dutch coach house with steeply sloping roofs and an octagonal tower, as well as a triple-height Great Hall with vaulted wooden ceilings. To add to the drama, there’s a custom built 340-seat theater with hydraulic lifts that raise cars up from below.

For more information, click here