The Porsche Museum
You’ll see the unmistakable, unorthodox silhouette of the Porsche Museum protruding into the Stuttgart skyline long before you recognise the rest of Porscheplatz.
This isn’t down to the height of the building; nearby factory structures spread over the home of Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche AG protrude further skywards, but these carry function strictly over form and so they are otherwise nondescript, even ugly, in appearance. In stark contrast, it’s the beauty of the Museum that immediately draws your eyes towards it.
At first it looks like the main structure of the Musuem is suspended in the air (in fact, it is supported by only three V-shaped columns), and its form appears to change drastically as you walk around its perimeter.
No matter what angle, there’s a crisp yet complex illusion emanating from it. Even from the outside then, there’s no denying this entire complex is a fine example of architectural art.
The building itself was designed by Viennese architect office Delugan Meissl, whose design was chosen by the Porsche board from over 170 different entrants for the project.
Construction work started in early October 2005 to implement those design renders, and on January 31st 2009, the building was officially opened to the public.
Inside, you’ll find a 5,600-square metre exhibition space with a variety of motoring relics and icons spread eloquently over two spiralling floors, outlining the entire history of Porsche from Ferdinand’s birth in 1875 to the present day.
Owned by Porsche AG, the Museum inhibits a special, innovative way of presenting the history of the manufacturer to the public, so much so that you could visit the displays two or three times in a year and enjoy an entirely difference experience, each time learning new things. It is this adage that helps the Museum attract so many visitors.
Displays are always centered around the visions that shaped the company. Here, you will find out more about Zuffenhausen’s remit of lightweight construction, clever use of technology, fast and powerful performance, an intensity in sporting excellence, and a consistency in high standards as the blueprint for any car produced by Porsche.
What’s more, the Museum operates by organising its exhibitions according to themes. Typically, two to three themes prevail in a 12-month cycle, each lasting several months.
The Museum’s management constantly liaise with Dieter Landenberger, Head of Porsche Archive, to decide on display themes relevant to the company, which can be time sensitive.
For example, the display theme during our visit in the summer of 2014 was ‘Le Mans’, using Porsche’s rich racing history at La Sarthe to mark Weissach’s return to the top class of the race for the first time in 15 years.
Once a display theme is in place for the Museum to present historically, plans are then made with Landenberger over suitable sports cars to pull from storage to ensure a glorious ensemble of Porsches are permanently on display at Porscheplatz 1.
“Of course, this is a difficult task,” Landenberger tells me, “because some of the cars in storage could be going through a restoration or have one scheduled, and so we must carefully match which highbrow cars should go on display with the cars that can.”
After a comprehensive hitlist of suitable cars is put in place to help illuminate each theme, detailed floor plans are then made to decide how these cars can best tell a story. Landenberger continues:
“The cars you see in the Museum are not placed there just because we feel like it; they are there as a result of careful planning. As well as looking at what can be displayed from our history, we look at how the car can be displayed – for example, look at the 956, which is mounted upside down to highlight its superior downforce capabilities. Of course, such a presentation takes time to organise.”
In a bid to appeal to the younger generation of Porsche fan (school and college visits here are not uncommon), classic Zuffenhausen relics are often presented in a fresh, modern way, with current technology deployed to aid the evocative learning experience.
The sensory overload is welcoming: as well as being able to run your eyes fastidiously over each and every sports car on display, there are clever touch pods that allow you to hear the different engine notes of a 356’s flat four, an early 911’s flat six, or even the howl of a 956 charging down the Mulsanne Straight.
Then there’s the sensations of smell: despite an otherwise corporate environment, get close to the cars and you can smell the faint whiff of oil from the rear of classics above the quaint aura of polish and leather.
Up to 80 sports cars are on display at any one time in the Museum, and to ensure each theme retains its appeal over prolonged periods of time, a select few cars are swapped out every few weeks.
As well as providing an open display for the paying public to learn about the Porsche brand, the Museum also engages with enthusiasts by staging events at the venue. At least one conference event is held here a week, for what the Museum terms as ‘big customers’.
The premises also stages one-off occasions for the public to get closer to the Porsche experience, for example during Le Mans when you could rock up and watch the entire 24- hour race from inside the Museum.
There’s much more to the Museum than merely presenting highly polished Porsche motoring artefacts and showing how a 911 et al is created and engineered, though. There’s a Museum workshop on the complex, as well as the Boxenstopp and Christophorus restaurants.
Owner: Porsche AG
Location: Porscheplatz, Germany
Rarest 911 on display: Plenty of one-off original builds, including the first 930 Turbo (in 2.7-litre form)
Most common 911 on display: A 996.1 Carrera, though this particular example was painted by aboriginal artist Graham Rennie Biggibilla.
Most expensive 911 on display: Putting a figure on most of these is foolish – the majority of cars on display are priceless.
Interesting fact: 21,000 cubic metres of concrete were used in the construction of the museum.
Sports cars being built in the adjacent factory and then displayed in the Stuttgart OPC over the road all get their identity from the cars inside the Museum, and Porsche AG know it: it’s the whole reason for the complex existing in the first place.
The area is just as special for enthusiasts too: throughout the day, 911s will constantly pull up onto the concourse in front of the Museum so owners can get a quick snap of their Porsche back on ‘home turf’.
They come from afar too – one Australian Porsche owner told me how he’d travelled to Europe on business and couldn’t resist a quick stop at the place that built his beloved 997.2 C4S.
“It doesn’t disappoint here, does it?” he says as we ogle at our reflections in the mirrored roof high above our heads. It certainly doesn’t. If you haven’t yet been, you’re simply missing out.
For more behind-the-scenes tours of the Porsche 911 world’s great and the good, check out our online ‘Profiles’ section from Canepa to Singer via a whole host of other specialists.