The Porsche Museum

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Rather than serving as a graveyard for old designs, the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, was designed to be an open space where Porsche can showcase its cars and esteemed history to a curious public. The building itself was designed by Vienna, Austria-based firm Delugan Meissl and reflects, as Porsche aims to do with its automobiles, the latest thinking and technological possibilities in architecture. After entering the building on the ground floor, visitors ascend into the ‘floating body’ of the museum. In this main exhibition hall, the contents are divided into two sections: Porsche before 1948 and Porsche after 1948. That year marks a milestone for Porsche, as it is when the company produced its first production model, the 356. Early milestones are numerous, and include one of the first hybrid engines developed by Ferdinand Porsche in 1901.

Thanks to this [work]shop, all cars on display in the museum are in working order — a fact that the museum celebrates by starting up a different vintage Porsche every morning.

Directly below the monolithic exhibition space, on the ground floor of the building, sit two other important sections of the museum: the archive and the workshop. The archive is open to the public (though you must register first) , and contains historical images, press clippings, drawings, videos and documentation of all things Porsche. It is as much a treasure as the cars above it, and is used not only by inquisitive Porsche fans, but also by the press and Porsche employees themselves. The workshop, similarly situated on the ground floor, is just that: a fully operational workshop, staffed by a head engineer and three mechanics, who maintain the museum’s automobile collection.

Thanks to this shop, all cars on display in the museum are in working order — a fact that the museum celebrates by starting up a different vintage Porsche every morning. New museums tend to attract a great deal of attention initially, but keeping the momentum up is a real challenge. The museum’s open layout and car elevator make frequent changes easy, and the inventory is constantly rotated. One future exhibit, to open at the end of 2010, will tell the story of Porsche in America and the success of the brand since the first model 356 shipped stateside in 1950. In another precisely engineered gesture of openness, the museum will call for photographs of American Porsche owners with their cars to include in the exhibit.

By Henry Julier

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