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Porsche Museum and Archive – Then and Now

The new Porsche Museum presents a striking silhouette on the Stuttgart skyline
Taken just a year after its completion, the new Porsche Museum presents a striking silhouette on the Stuttgart skyline

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.

The library part of the Archive today features dedicated desks with computers
The library part of the Archive today features dedicated desks with computers where researchers can conduct their work while having access to the Archive’s vast collection of books and reference material

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 The valuable historical documents were kept in a secure, climate-controlled room off to one side where they were of course well organised.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.

The old Archive upstairs in the Werk 3 building
The old Archive upstairs in the Werk 3 building as it was back in the early 2000s

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.

The old Museum where the cars were on display
The old Museum where the cars were on display seems so inadequate when compared with the modern facility today

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!

Construction of the new Museum as photographed in 2007
Construction of the new Museum as photographed in 2007

Construction of the new Museum as photographed in 2007
Construction of the new Museum as photographed in 2007

Construction of the new Museum as photographed in 2007
Construction of the new Museum as photographed in 2007

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.

Two of Porsche’s historic racers awaiting attention inside the new Museum Workshop
Two of Porsche’s historic racers awaiting attention inside the new Museum Workshop

Visitors can watch the activities within the Workshop through a glass wall
On the other side of the cars stacked on this racking system is a glass wall through which visitors can watch the activities within the Workshop while enjoying a light snack with their beverage

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.

Porsche sports and racing cars on display within the exhibition hall of the new Museum
Porsche sports and racing cars on display within the exhibition hall of the new Museum

The original Gmund Roadster, Porsche’s 356 No. 1
The original Gmund Roadster, Porsche’s 356 No. 1 ‘K45286’, the sports car that started it all…

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!

Dr. Wolfgang Porsche sits in the 1-millionth 911
Dr. Wolfgang Porsche sits in the 1-millionth 911 on the occasion of this car’s press unveiling in 2017

Porsche P1 launch at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart on 27 January 2014
Porsche P1 launch at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart on 27 January 2014

Dedicated exhibition showing Porsche’s racing heritage
Dedicated exhibition showing Porsche’s racing heritage

Overhead shot showing Porsche’s racing heritage
Overhead shot showing Porsche’s racing heritage

General view of the Porsche Museum exhibition hall
General view of the Porsche Museum exhibition hall

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.

View of the Porsche Museum exhibition hall – in the foreground is a recreation of the Type 64 Porsche Berlin-Rome race car
View of the Porsche Museum exhibition hall – in the foreground is a recreation of the Type 64 Porsche Berlin-Rome race car

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.

Porsche 911s line up outside the entrance to the Porsche Museum
Porsche 911s line up outside the entrance to the Porsche Museum on the occasion of the press unveiling in 2017 of the 1-millionth 911 produced

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.

A Porsche 911 on display outside the Museum’s entrance
A Porsche 911 on display outside the Museum’s entrance – actually on the roof above the Boxenstopp restaurant

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