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The BMW Museum, located in Munich, Germany, is dedicated to showcasing the car collections and history of BMW AG. The museum was built in 1973. A renovation of existing building was planned in spring 2002 and the revamp work commenced in 2004.

The new BMW Museum had to be integrated into the existing structural fabric of the group headquarters in Munich, where trend-setting architecture already had a presence with the ‘Museum Bowl’.

The task was to interpret this prominent architectural piece anew and lead it into the 21st century. It was a matter of maintaining the original architectural and experiential qualities of the Museum Bowl, making it suitable for temporary exhibitions, and uniting it with a completely new permanent exhibition area.

The renovation was completed in June 2008. The revamp included building seven exhibition houses, the architecture of which was created by using glass and steel to form a contrast to the bowl. An individual identity was given to the each house on the basis of different themes. All 25 exhibition areas are accessed by visitors using a standard tour route.

“The BMW Museum, located in Munich, Germany, is dedicated to showcasing the car collections and history of BMW AG.”

Concept and design

The museum concept is based on the idea of architect Karl Schwanzer, who created the original BMW museum in 1973. The concept follows the key ideas of ‘extension’ and ‘dynamism’. The west wing of the company’s headquarters was gutted and developed into a dynamic exhibition area; the Museum Bowl was architecturally connected to it and staged with the ‘visual symphony’, a 360° display, as an epilogue. The listed circular museum building, the bowl, is situated beside the BMW Tower and dedicated to temporary exibitions.

The basic theme of the Bowl – continuation of the street in enclosed space – was conceived as a principle of dynamic architecture.

The original idea finds its continuation in an urban spatial experience where a ramp system symbolises mobility. The renovation work was carried out from 2004 to 2008 to get back the structure to its original 1973 state.

Atelier Brückner was selected for the planning, architecture and exhibition design. ART+COM provided the spatial media design and interactive installations, while Swiss company Delux AG was involved in the general lighting design.

The museum building appears closed from outside while it looks very open and spacious inside. Five platforms inside the building seem to float freely in mid air. These platforms are used as as the exhibition areas, accessed from a rising spiral ramp. The diameter of the circular base of the museum widens from 20m to 40m, providing a wide airspace that allowed building expansion on platforms four and five. The 5,000m² additional space created by the revamp accommodates the permanent exhibition.

BMW Museum street

On an asphalted ‘street’, the visitor is immersed in an urban ambience with houses, squares and bridges. Each one of the seven thematic houses can be entered on different floors. There are common design elements, which consequently appear on all floors, expressing a vertical and thematic arrangement. In this way, every house speaks an individual language, generated from the subject – each house has its own identity.

“The Munich BMW Museum has a modern and dynamic design: the design of the automobile world.”

Conversely, from the exterior, the houses present themselves as homogeneous, luminous bodies with beaming bright glass façades. A ‘mediatecture’ was realised, working with monochrome white LEDs, mounted behind satin-finish windowpanes.

At the BMW Platz, a 13m-high airspace in the centre of the permanent exhibition, the LEDs are individually programmable, creating more than 30 possible light displays. This square is the pulsating heart of the exhibition. The architecture is dematerialised and given a new dynamic attitude, with space and exhibits seeming to move.

The BMW Museum has a modern and dynamic design: the design of the automobile world. Like the BMW brand, which represents innovative technology and trend-setting design, the BMW Museum strikes a new path in intertwining architecture, exhibition design and communicative media, with dynamism becoming a principle of the design.