The Mercedes-Benz Museum is one of the most-visited museums in Germany. It’s an architecturally superb modern building in Stuttgart, Daimler’s headquarters city, filled with more than 100 years of automotive history.
Thanks to modern technology, you can put all of it in your hand, via a new museum app. And it’s free.
The Mercedes Classic Car app turns an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch into a digital museum guide, in English or German.
Gottlieb Daimler is credited with inventing the automobile, a three-wheel motorized device, in 1886 pictured here. That makes 2011 the 125th anniversary of the car, which Germany is celebrating with events throughout the country.
You can get a jump start on the celebration by checking out the swooping and sculptured 1936 Mercedes 500K Roadster in fire engine red, one of the fastest and most luxurious vehicles of its time. It is my personal favorite of all the vehicles displayed here, even more than the iconic gull-wing 1954 300SL Mercedes, which likely is the most photographed vehicle in the museum. The 500K also is the most valuable vehicle in the museum, worth more than $11 million, since just 25 were ever built and just five survive.
The app features photos, captions, background information and some sound files, too--plus a shopping section, for replacement parts and other Mercedes branded items. Scroll through the collection of historic, vintage vehicles at home, and use the app as a digital guide if and when you visit.
I’ve been to the museum twice in the last three years. Like other treasure-filled museums, there’s more than enough here to discover – or learn -- something new each time. The displays are in a timeline, starting with the 1880s on the top floor, and ending with concepts for the future and alternative fuels including fuel cells and plug-in hybrid. In between are displays on Mercedes racing history, including a Formula One Mercedes-McLaren, safety and technology and more.
There are plans to extend the app technology for spring. “Whether it’s with another operating system, such as Android, or a new mobile end device, like the Samsung Galaxy tablet PC, the Mercedes-Benz Museum will continue to communicate innovatively throughout 2011, says Michael Bock, director of Mercedes-Benz Classic.
Fabulous fact: The 1886 three-wheel ‘horseless carriage’ on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum here is a copy. The original is in the Deutsches Museum in Munich, which houses Germany’s largest transportation exhibit, including trains and planes.
I’ll be writing about more historic car museums in future articles.