World Automobile Day: All you need to know about the BMW Museum in Munich

Ahead of World Automobile Day on January 29, here's a sneak peek into the world of the luxury automotive brand

By Rashmi Gopal Rao

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Published: Thu 25 Jan 2024, 8:52 PM

It is often said that the cars we drive say a lot about who we are. This is a statement that is sure to ring true with car enthusiasts who are often ardent brand loyalists. And speaking of car brands, BMW has topped the charts as the best car brand for the year 2023. According to a report in the Business Insider, BMW landed the top spot based on road test scores, reliability, safety and customer satisfaction surveys. A brand that has been patronised by millions of customers across the world, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, which is the full form of BMW, is a legacy that was born in the German state of Bavaria over a century ago. The BMW Museum in Munich is an ode to this legacy and is a much sought after attraction in the German city by petrol heads, museum buffs, tech aficionados and automobile lovers alike. Here is a sneak peek into the world of BMW on the occasion of World Automobile Day on January 29:

A tryst with history

Often touted as an intrinsic part of Munich culture, the BMW museum located in close proximity to the city’s Olympia Park is spread across a whopping 5000 square metres. Originally opened in 1973, the museum reopened after a brief period of renovation in 2008 and since then has welcomed over five million visitors. It is here that one can trace the journey of the brand from its beginnings to the present day through informative displays, models, prototypes, infographics and the like. So, right from its founding in 1916, important first steps and milestones to current day hot topics like sustainability and e-mobility, the museum has it all. The architecture of the distinctly futuristic, silver hued museum building itself is noteworthy given its circular design and flat roof that spreads about 40 metres.

As you enter the museum, the shining red model of the BMW 3/15 PS DA 2 Limousine is unmissable. The company which first started as a manufacturer of aircraft engines, forayed into the world of automobiles in 1928 when it acquired the company Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach AG. The latter manufactured cars under the Dixi brand. The strategy of BMW to make major changes to the Dixi after a short period of initial production to creating its first car bearing the BMW brand in March 1929 is well explained. The company then went on to build an entire series of small cars and by 1932, it had sold an astonishing 15,000 units.

Visitors can follow the company’s motorcycle journey with the iconic 1923 BMW R32 which is a favourite even today with collectors and motor enthusiasts. Photographs elucidating the design and components including the double-loop frame, boxer engine layout and cardan drive shaft are indeed engaging. The bike which made its debut in the Berlin Motor Show in autumn 1923 was used for motorsport right away and the model is often regarded as a milestone in motorcycle history.

Displays galore

There is an entire section dedicated to BMW Motorrad which is the company’s division that manufactures motorcycles. With bikes right from the 1920s displayed, each with its features and design highlights, this one is a treat for motorbike lovers. Take time to admire the BMW R39, the company’s first single cylinder mode, the powerful BMW R63, the BMW RS 255 and the BMW R75 with its heavy side car that was designed to serve the German army amongst others. Further, there are dedicated sections with immense details on aircraft as well as boat engines which form for compelling displays.

The museum is also a haven for speed freaks and racing fans as you can explore the BMW’s foray into race cars with the 1939 BMW 328. Designed by Peter Szymanowski, this stunning model was not only known for its good looks but its light weight design and superlative engine output. The brand’s subsequent association with Formula racing is well captured. The informative displays on the BMW 3, 5, 6 and 7 series which have been a constant factor in the company’s success since the 1970s is engaging. Information on the advertising strategy of the brand over the years, its universal model number principle and the evolution of the design of its logo is rather fascinating as is the section that focuses on the entire design journey which is essentially created for the people by the people. Known for its use of innovative technology in building world class engines, the section on the different kinds of engines is a lesson in ingenuity.

Trivia on the 1955 BMW Isetta which is undoubtedly one of the most endearing concepts in mobility history as well as Elvis’ BMW 507 are particularly not to be missed.

Tackling challenges of the future

As the world tackles issues related to sustainability, BMW’s focus on research and development to produce more efficient technology for electric powered vehicles in the future is well explained. Facts like the company operating its own research centre to create battery technology of the future and covering every stage of the battery cycle right from research to recycling is a revelation. Apart from electrification, BMW’s responses to challenges in the areas of digitalisation and circularity is also well captured. There is a detailed section on the careful selection of sustainable materials by the brand and this includes green electricity, secondary steel and aluminium as well as recycled textiles.

BMW welt

Situated close to the museum is the BMW Welt which is an exclusive BMW Experience centre that is free for visitors to explore. Feel free to check out the latest models from BMW, BMW Motorrad, MINI and Rolls-Royce while soaking in the high-spirited ambience. From customised consultations including experiencing colours, materials and special equipment to one-on-one expert consultation, visitors can experience a whole range of services. This includes the BMW Individual Lounge which offers visitors exclusive advice from a specially trained BMW Genius.

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