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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Our visit to the BMW Museum in bustling Munich.

Sunday we decided to inspect the competition and we headed from Walter Rohrl's beautiful village of Sant Eglmar, to bustling Munich. We visited the BMW Museum and their customer car delivery center, BMW Welt (Welt means world in German). There is a big difference of architectural style and scale between Porsche's facilities in Stuttgart and those BMW has established in Munich, as befitting the two car manufacturers' sizes. With the BMW museum building, the architect—Wolf Prix of Coop Himmelb(lau) of Vienna, Austria—made the building an engaging part of the experience. Hidden projectors shine graphics and artwork on many of the walls, turning them into designers' canvasses. For some, it may approach a sensory overload, however I found it very entertaining.

Delugan Meissl Associate Architects, who designed the Porsche Museum, are 
also based in Vienna, but by contrast, they let the cars remain the stars. Yes, the building is spectacular, but it has an elegant, art gallery aesthetic, which in my mind doesn't compete for your attention the way the BMW museum does. 

I've included some pictures to show you the Welt center and some interior views of the museum. It now has a special exhibit of the famous Art Cars, those painted by the likes of Alexander Calder, Frank Stella, Andy Warhol, and a dozen others. These the museum showed most dramatically in their rotunda building which will remind almost any visitor of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Here, exhibit designers sited the cars on a succession of landings on the spiraling climb to the top level. The first cars from the 1970s started on the lowest levels and chronology rose with the altitude so that most recent efforts were just below the roof.

If you visit, you can park in a large underground lot directly below BMW Welt. A leisurely walk 
leads you past new cars and several enticing boutiques and cafes to two ways to cross the street to the museum. Most efficient is the bridge from the second level (get there through the DoppelKone; this is the small satellite, conical-shaped gallery that was showing the nicest of BMW convertibles when we were there). Allow two hours or more to see the exhibits and cars on display in the museum. I have read comments before that other photographers consider the BMW museum dark—and it certainly is darker than Porche's—but if you can adjust your digital camera to ISO 320, or even 640, and you are steady-handed, you'll do fine. There are interesting photos to be made there. BMW Welt not only has cafes at either end, but also a first-class restaurant (called Restaurant International, somewhat similar to Porsche's Christophorus). There also are boutiques offering BMW designer clothing and an entire shop devoted to Mini apparel and accessories. The museum has a sit-down service restaurant with spacious outdoor seating for nicer days. A gift shop is stocked with books, posters, some antique original brochures and manuals, some models, and other items. 

From BMW, Jerry and I headed to Munich's Deutsches Museum (specializing in transportation and technology) which, unfortunately for us, was closed because May 1 is a German national holiday. That museum has mounted a special exhibition of the history of Motorsport so we definitely will go back on days when we know they are open.

So, with no destination in mind, we set off into the countryside. It is spring in Germany and fields and forests are lush and verdant. We drove through kilometer after kilometer of farmland and found fields of rapeseed, a brilliant yellow flower that is used to make a cooking oil, and nearly as many with hops trellises. Hops, of course, help the world make beer.

Tomorrow, Monday, we have no interviews and a full day in archives, beginning the paper chase. Dieter has promised us there is more than enough information to do not just one book or one volume but many so we'll see what we learn.

Oh, yes, before I forget; The Porsche Museum and archives have a T-Mobile Wi-Fi service throughout, but Dieter told me they turn the system off on Mondays when they are closed so I'll work a bit Monday evening to transfer all this to the new Porsche Racing History blogsite.

Stay tuned.

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