Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Mercedes-Benz Museum

Due to the German holiday schedule, we got a four day weekend for Easter.  If I haven't mentioned it before, everything in Germany (as well as other places in Europe) shuts down on Sundays and that goes double for holidays.  The few places that remain open on holidays and Sundays are museums and castles (with the exception of Christmas and New Years).  That makes them the perfect days to visit museums since nothing else is open and it's better than sitting around in the house all day.  So, on Good Friday, we headed to the Mercedes-Benz Museum which is located in Stuttgart, since that is the world headquarters.

Like a good portion of Americans, I was naive and thought that Henry Ford was the genius behind the automobile.  I couldn't be more wrong, though that's basically what we were taught in school.  Henry Ford made his first vehicle in 1896, and the Model-T wasn't produced until 1908.  Henry Ford became famous because he was the first one to put the mass production of automobiles into effect.

The actual "inventor" of the internal combustion engine in 1879 and the use of it in an automobile in 1886, was Karl Benz.  I put inventor in quotation marks because Gottlieb Daimler also filed a patent for the internal combustion engine the same year, but Benz filed for the patent first, so he gets the credit.  They teamed up eventually to created Mercedes-Benz (initially named Daimler-Benz) in 1886, a full 10 years before Henry Ford made his first automobile.  We thought it was cool to live in the Motor City, but now we live in the actual birthplace of the automobile.

Brady and Andy outside the museum.

The boys striking a pose near Andy's "dream car." I call it his dream car because he can dream on ;) I could never justify spending that much on a car that might only live 10 years and isn't really practical.  He already has one of those.

Once we made it inside the museum, they had an elevator that takes you to the top floor (there were 10 total).  The way the museum is laid out, each level is for a specific time period (from the beginning until present day), and then ramps lead you down to the next level.  On those ramps are pictures and small excerpts, citing events that were both important for the world and the auto industry.  It was a really fluid design and you could see the famous German efficiency.

The Invention of the Automobile

The first displays were small dioramas of specific places in the area, depicted in the time before the automobile.  The one above is of Heidelberg Castle, which we visited just a few weeks ago.

The Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof (main train station).

Schloss Solitude (a castle within the Stuttgart city limits).

The Stuttgart Marketplatz (market square) located downtown.

This is what started it all.  Daimler's first internal combustion engine, dubbed the "Grandfather clock," because Daimler thought it resembled an old pendulum clock.

Two of the first automobiles with internal combustion engines.

Daimler and Benz also ventured to put engines into other modes of transportation.

Birth of the Brand

Most people see Mercedes-Benz and think that it's two people's last names who created the company.  The Mercedes was initially the name of one of the car models that was introduced in 1901.  It was named after the daughter of an Austrian race car driver, who promised to buy 36 automobiles for a large sum, if the company would agree to make a race car to his specifications.  The name stuck and in 1926, they started branding all cars under the name Mercedes-Benz.  Above is an original Mercedes.

Times of Change

This next era dealt with the cars that were created during the times of and between WWI and WWII, in which Germany did not fare very well.

Form and Diversity

This era dealt with the ability of consumers being able to have more choice.  There was the introduction of more colors and individuality when purchasing a vehicle.

Reminds me of the Delorian about 25 years before Back to the Future.

 Safety and Environment

Although we are over 5,000 miles from home and in another country, the Pittsburgh influence is worldwide ;)

Starting to get into the Mercedes we recognize from the 70s and 80s.

1982-Present Day
The Road to Emission-Free Mobility

Race Cars

The next level featured race cars from past and present that Mercedes-Benz has manufactured.

This Marlboro race car again boasted the Pittsburgh influence with the PPG logo and the double whammy of having Bosch.

The same Marlboro car because a triple threat with the Detroit connection as well.

The cars above and below, they removed the hoods and showed what's on the inside of these particular race cars.

Starting to get to some of the older race cars.

Really, really old race cars.

The bottom level was dedicated to cars and ideas that are in production currently.

I love the aqua car above and below.  Not only is it a gorgeous color, but I love the way it's designed with the all glass compartment.

The steps of making a model, starting by sculpting with clay.

This made me think of Mrs. Doubtfire, when Robin Williams pulls the Mercedes logo off of Pierce Brosnan's car.

Those who know Brady best know that he LOVES cars.  When we go for walks, he's always pointing and screaming, "A car! A car!"  He loves to watch both Cars and Cars 2, and has way too many toy cars.  He was in car heaven at the museum, which was good for us because it kept him entertained while we got to read all the little captions.

Now, what museum about cars would be without a car you could play in?

I can already see Brady being one of those kids who literally counts down each day until they get their learner's permit.

1 comment:

  1. What fun pictures! My bro-in-law would love to visit there, although he'd probably prefer the VW museum even more. I agree that the aqua car is cool - it would be fun to see that much! Safety-wise, it would totally make me nervous. :-)