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When I found out that our path back to the US was through Munich, I was interested, no make that excited, at the prospect of visiting BMW Welt and Museum, two architectural marvels across the road from each other connected by an elevated pedestrian bridge. Designed by architectural firm Coop Himmelblau, BMW Welt opened in 2007 and is now the most popular tourist attraction in Bavaria. If you special order a BMW you can pick it up at Welt and enjoy a dramatic reveal of your new wheels. You wait in a glass-walled hall, and your Bimmer is lifted up from lower levels on a round elevator platform to the assigned delivery area. Too cool for school.
BMW Welt is essentially a massive showroom, make that shopping mall for the contemporary, and a few future vehicles. BMW, Rolls Royce and Mini are on display. Of course there is a shop where you can pick up BMW merch along with a couple of restaurants. One of which is celebrity chef Bobby Brauer’s haute cuisine restaurant, EssZimmer, holder of two Michelin stars. Quite a step up from the self serve coffee machines at most BMW dealers.
The museum has a spiral ramp, similar to the one in the Guggenheim museum in New York, which takes you several levels to view BMW motorcycles. I am a fan of BMW bikes and there are many here that I have not seen before or know of. Everything from scooters to racing models as well as a couple of prototypes are on exhibit. Below are some of the more distinct models you would not normally see on the street.
After viewing all the motorcycles, I headed to the auto collection. Aside from their own nameplate, BMW also produces the Rolls-Royce and the current Mini-Cooper, neither of which interested me. I’ve owned both the bikes and cars - OK, I’m a BMW fanboy, and my favorites, being a long time convertible owner myself, were the drop tops. That said, when I was in my 20’s I lusted after the 2002 coupe, seen here in orange, but it was too pricey. Every iteration of the BMW car line, the first, from the acquisition of the Dixi car company to the hydrogen prototype is represented at the museum. The 1950s BMW cabriolets are my favorites for their exquisite design.
What I found fascinating was the depth and range of design in the cars, some with strong angles, others with sweeping lines or sumptuous curves. While a virtual tour of the museum is just fine, if you find yourself near Munich, go visit. If you care to dine in Bobby Brauer’s EssZimmer, make your reservation a couple of days in advance. Even if you are not hungry, you can enjoy a visual feast with no danger of over-indulging.