17 fascinating minutes at the BMW Museum

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"Fascinating!" I thought to myself the other day, as I looked at an art installation. Over the past two months, I've been studying BMW in Munich as part of my ongoing work on a book on authentic organizational identity, which I am planning to finish this spring. The time had come to visit one of the greatest brand museums ever. Back in 2004 the BMW Group decided to spend some 80 million Euro on the renovation and expansion of their corporate museum, initially built in the 1970's. Located in front of the tall BMW headquarters and across the street from the architecturally fascinating BMW World, the Museum looks like a giant tea-cup and would serve well as an iconic entrance to a museum of modern art in any metropolis. Here, however, it's not paintings that are on show, but cars and motorcycles. At least, that was my expectation.

Authentic BMW
The architecture of the Museum itself is a piece of art. The building is listed, protected by the German Government. I soon found myself happily surprised at the first installation. What seemed like a thousand silver pearls were floating in the air, changing from arbitrary swarm to orderly sculptures depicting the forms of old and new cars. When the BMW started the revamp of the Museum, they hired Joachim Sauter, a specialist in new and innovative media. "He told us 'Be authentic!'," says Dr. Andreas Braun, who is in charge of the communication of the 5.000 m2 museum and was deeply involved in the development of the museum throughout the 2000s.