Every visitor to the Mercedes-Benz Museum will discover the diversity of the exhibition and the architecture from a very individual perspective. But which focal points of the museum and which of the stories they tell will become the focal point of that personal perception? Today, we will provide some insight from: Dr Ulrike Groos, Director of the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart.
“I am an art historian and have been running the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart since 2010. I visited the Mercedes-Benz Museum without delay when I came to Stuttgart nine years ago – just like all the museums in the city. At first glance, a museum dedicated to the history of mobility is very different from an art museum. But there are still many interesting overlaps.”
Overlaps between art and mobility: when Ulrike Groos refers to Daimler and the visual arts, she immediately thinks of the Daimler Art Collection, the company’s art collection. At the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, one of the cars has already been included as part of an exhibition: the theme was overcoming borders. In 2010, the artist Anahita Razmi transferred her car, a Paykan, from Iran to Germany in a process lasting two months and exhibited it together with the customs documents in the museum.
Presentation of the Mercedes Simplex 40 PS as a central exhibit in the “Legend 2: Mercedes – Birth of the Brand, 1900 to 1914” room: the car stands on a base of marble stucco, and above it, the refraction of light through cut glass crystals creates a starry sky.
“I'm interested in how an exhibition stages its exhibits. Here, for example, using a range of materials, the shimmering brass in dark surroundings and the base made of stucco marble, this vehicle has been successfully over-staged. This elevated position matches the overall aesthetics of the room, and it fits in with history when visitors learn that it’s the world’s first modern motorcar. The way objects are presented is always important. Most visual artists also have a very clear idea about how their works should be presented.”
“The museum makes very skilful use of different types of light: artificial light in the ‘Legend’ rooms, daylight in the ‘Collection’ rooms. This ensures the exhibits are seen at their best in both tours. The voluminous space in which they are exhibited matches the stature of the cars and gives them room to develop a three-dimensional appearance. At the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, on the other hand, whose collection consists mainly of paintings, graphics and photographs, we need walls for the presentation, and we have smaller rooms. However, precise handling of light always boosts the experience of the exhibits in space.”
Light and space: the Mercedes-Benz Museum transitions from the artificial light specifically used in the “Legend” rooms to the radiant, bright daylight in the “Collection” rooms.
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL super sports car with its striking shape is regarded as an automotive icon of the 1950s.
“There is a connection between automotive history and art. Colour, form, material properties and design play an important role in both worlds. Cars like this Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing underline this. The term ‘icon’ is often used for designs of this standing, a central term in art history where it means a cult image. It is used in this context for an outstanding object of its time, which forms part of our collective conscious.”
“Children and adolescents, in particular, walk around the exhibition intuitively and link the atmosphere and the materials on show with a certain epoch. The historical contexts that are represented on the way through the museum by the ‘Illustrated chronicle’ are equally important. They show very clearly that, like works of art, motorcars are also a mirror of their time.”
The display cases with their historical background information along the ramps from one “Legend” room to the next form a link between the brand and contemporary history.