Have you ever been to the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen? If not, you would do well to plan a visit to this modern and welcoming facility in the heart of Porsche-land. As a Porsche driver or just an enthusiast, your eyes will be out on stalks as you explore the halls of this heritage rich site.
My first trip to the Porsche Museum and Archive was back in 2004, when the Archive occupied the top floor of one section of the Werk 3 building, which is across the road from the present-day Museum. Here, the Archive was, by comparison with today’s facility, a typical old-fashioned looking department with a few bookshelves and tables spread around. The valuable historical documents were kept in a secure, climate-controlled room off to one side where they were of course well organised. Some of the many trophies that Porsche had accumulated over the years were lined up along the wooden rafters of the roof, and you had to crane your neck upwards just to see that they were there.
Back then, the Museum where the cars were kept for public viewing, was located in the Werk 2 building which was again across the road from the old Archive. Around twenty historic road and race cars were lined up next to each other so closely, that you could touch the cars on each side as you walked between them. They were simply parked against a wall much like you would find cars in parallel parking in the high street of any town or village where you live, but each car did have a descriptive plaque on a stand explaining which car you were looking at.
Discussions on the construction of a new Museum/Archive concept commenced in 2003, and after a hotly contested bidding war, the winning architectural firm began construction work in October 2005. On a subsequent trip in July 2007, work on the new Museum building was in fact well advanced, with the completion date set for the second half of 2008. As it happens the opening date was slightly delayed, and the doors were officially opened on 31 January 2009 and since that date, more than 4.75 million visitors have passed through its doors!
The new building was hailed as the most spectacular construction project in the company’s history. The new facility boasted an exhibition floor space capacity of 21,000 square meters, a far cry from the 20-odd cars crammed into the previous space. At the same time, Porsche vowed to stick to the proven formula of the ‘rolling museum’ which required the specialist vehicle teams to regularly rotate the 80 vehicles on display in the new museum with other racing and sports cars from their substantial pool on a regular basis.
Such a process of constant vehicle rotation required that those cars chosen for an exhibition needed to be in tip-top shape, and so this necessitated having a Museum Workshop on site. While major restoration work is carried out elsewhere, minor work can be performed in the Museum Workshop and this can be watched by visitors through a glass wall as they sip their beverage at the coffee bar.
On every visit to the Museum and Archive, I have not failed to give the latest exhibition a good looking over, and of course to take numerous photographs. Visits to the Museum and Archive have usually taken place because of a book project I was working on at the time, or there has been some important launch or reveal that needed to be covered. On one occasion, I was at the Museum for a photo shoot of some iconic race cars when I learned that there was a press briefing happening across the road where the 1-millionth 911 was to be unveiled. What an opportunity, to be able to cover that story and to photograph Wolfgang Porsche sitting in the car which was finished in his favourite colour, Irish Green!
Your visit will undoubtedly take you much of the day, and just in case you and your family get peckish, besides the coffee bar, you have one of two restaurants to choose from. The less formal and more relaxed setting is to be found in the Boxenstopp, but the food quality is superb. The more formal of the two establishments is the Christophorus, where your palette can be treated to speciality dishes out of the top drawer. This venue can also be used for business lunches, so there is a setting to satisfy most needs.
At the moment, from 4 to 23 August 2020, the Porsche Museum is offering a programme for boys and girls aged 5 to 13 during the summer holidays. Porsche 4Kids will welcome around 50 children every day to the ‘Car Factory’ between 10h00 and 16h00. Those participating in the summer holiday programme, which will be held in German and English, will gain an exclusive insight into the company’s production processes and will also have the opportunity to conduct their own experiments.
Next month, September, I will be visiting the Museum and Archive yet again, for another of my photographic adventures and to conduct final research for a book that I am finishing. Visits to the Museum and Archive are always a highlight, and something that I continue to look forward to as the exhibition hall of the Museum is in a constant state of change. Readers will see the fruits of this next visit expressed in PORSCHE ROAD & RACE over the next few months, so be sure to stay tuned.
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale & Corporate Archives Porsche AG