I am a lucky man, on my honeymoon in 2009, my wife and I spent a day at the BMW Motorcycle Museum in Munich. Really enjoyed the museum, and the corporate dining room was one of the best meals I had 0n the trip. I think I’ve had one of the worst meals ever, in Venice, and will admit to taking refuge in the Ikea cafe in Italy… yes, ok. I confess, it wasn’t a gourmands delight, but the BMW restaurant was outstanding – so if you find yourself there, don’t hesitate to partake.
The motorcycles on display were awesome, one complaint I would have it that there are a lot of bikes mounted on a wall behind glass – made me wish I had a polarizing filter on my camera to block the reflections, but the lack of access was balanced by the fact that many of the motorcycles and cars were open to pawing, gawking and close inspection. The awesomeness of the collection was marred by an equally monumental flaw, which slowly but surly left a bad taste in my mouth.
The new modern space is impressive, but the overall experience was tainted by BMW Welt (world) that is part and parcel of the experience. You pay admission to enter what is essentially a humungous showroom. I completely understand museums charging admission, I’d gladly pay for a pilgrimage to Sammy Miller’s. I understand, vehicles need to be procured, restored, maintained and displayed, but the rest was just a giant… I dunno, show off? It made me think these guys really do have too much money. Now that was the cynical me, a couple of years later looking at the photos I am impressed, but not blown away.
It would have been nice to see the bikes with a fuller display, for example period riding gear, tools, race results etc. The building is very sterile, white, grey and modern forms and curves – it would be nice to have a human touch, especially when dealing with motorcycles. Of course BMW Welt Museum is there to showcase BMW, it would have been nice to see some other marques.
Overall the impression was that this Museum really was a marketing exercise, and hence my annoyance at paying for the privilege. I guess I was somewhat naive in expecting a true museum, but that is what I was expecting, perhaps an old foundry where cylinders were cast, exposed brick, crusty leathers…. like the Sammy Miller Museum, or a more balanced perspective like the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. Like most experinces (or life in general) managing expectations is the key to happiness, so had I done any research, I would have known what I was getting into.
While you are in Munich, it would be worth a visit to the International Design Museum or (Die Neue Sammlung, Design in Der Pinakothek Der Moderne) They have some awesome bikes and cars displayed within the context of modern art and design, really worth the visit, even if you are just a gearhead. I’ll post my photos from that another day.
Overall it was a great day of bikes and cars, I hope the photos give you a sense of the place and the bikes on display, there’s enough of them!