HomeNews and EventsWhat’s the deal with the secret doors at the Mercedes museum?

What’s the deal with the secret doors at the Mercedes museum?

Our weekly roundup of car museum news and notes


The architects who designed the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, built the facility around an atrium with a ceiling about 115 feet above the floor. 

“Futuristic lifts on three walls arranged in the shape of a cloverleaf glide up into the exhibition,” the museum notes in a recent news release. “The lift shafts are connected with so-called twists, imposing double-curved concrete components. They grow out of the walls and, leaning against the nearest shaft, spiral outwards in a slight curve.”

The report continues that with an area of more than 28,000 square feet and weighing in at more than 5 million pounds, “the twists shape the dynamic appearance of the museum and are one of the most spectacular architectural innovations ever.”

The surface of the walls is exposed concrete. The museum staff notes that only a few visitors even notice the five large squares within the twists. 

What even fewer visitors likely realize is that the squares are actually doors, disguised in a trompe l’oeil style that belies their actual function, to provide access to the showroom-style collection rooms behind. 

The doors are exposed concrete and provide access to the museum’s various display areas

“Yes, the squares are doors,” the museum notes. “They are inconspicuously embedded in the concrete wall, similar to the camouflaged wallpaper doors in many a castle.”

Were they made of actually concrete, each door would weight around 12,000 pounds and require massive hinges. Instead, they are made from steel frames covered in fiberboard that looks like concrete. And they have electric motors to open and close.

The doors are the work of Jurgen Kuntel, an architectural restoration specialist who notes the difficulty of extending the concrete patterns, which is done with brushes and sponges and then is sanded to match each door’s surroundings.

The doors are large — providing an opening 13 feet high and 11.5 feet wide, so that even trucks and buses can fit through. The atrium also has a crane system and allows a vehicle to be driven onto or off the crane, and lifted or lowered into place.

AACA announces upcoming exhibits

With its “Survivors” exhibit open, the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, has announced a trio of new exhibits scheduled to open May 21. They are “Orphan Cars,” “ATVs” and “AMCs.”

The museum also has announced its annual Bill Smith Memorial Summer Cruise-In car show, scheduled for June 18. Smith was one of the museum’s primary founders.

Canadian museum reopens

Herbie the Love Bug was a recent gift to the museum from James Spencer | Museum photo by Gale D’Souza Photographic Touch

The Canadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa, Ontario, has reopened, albeit with pandemic health guidelines in place. The museum is open to visitors Tuesday-through-Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

For those who cannot get to the museum in person, it offers both a free, downloadable Family Fun Book and an audio tour podcast with stories in English and French through a variety of podcast providers.

Its “Third Thursday” lectures also are available online through Zoom. On February 17, Samantha George presents “The Death of Sam McLaughlin: Reflecting on his legacy after 50 years.” 

Upcoming talks include “General Motors of Canada and the Star Blanket Cree Nation,” March 17; “Lost Car Rescue,” April 21; and “Electric Cars of Canada — 1950 to Today,” on May 19.

Turin museum launches ‘Storie di Corse’

Mauto, the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile in Torino, Italy, launches a new series, Storie di Corse (racing stories), which will comprise a series of talks, screenings and even theatrical performances “dedicated to the protagonists of the world of motorsport.”

The hosts, journalists and F1 commentators Giorgio Piola and Biagio Maglienti, will be joined in the opening session on February 9, by Mauro Forghieri, engineer and designer and technical director for Scuderia Ferrari in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s. 

Also featured will be 10 technical drawings of single-seater race cars made by Piola.

Special events this weekend

The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia opens a Best of Britain 2022 exhibit on February 5. The exhibit, titled “A Study of British Racing Green,” runs through February 20 and will feature more than a dozen British automotive marques. Cars displayed range from a 1934 Mg PA to a 1997 Caterham Super Seven. The exhibit runs through February 20.

The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, stages its Winter Motoring Meet featuring vintage snowmobiles on February 5, and on February 6 continues its lecture series with Bob Elton presenting “Put It in Drive — The Hydra-matic Transmission” at 3 p.m.

Mark your calendar

After the success of the inaugural program in November, the British Motor Museum stages another Quiz Night on February 8 at Gaydon, UK. The event is open to teams of up to 6 with five rounds of questions on automotive, music and movie topics. The evening includes time to tour the museum and a dinner meal. 

“The History of British Racing Green” is the topic of a presentation at 11:15 a.m. at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia on February 12 by Greg Porter from Bonhams. Following the presentation, the museum will hold a Demo Day, “Salon — American Playboy,” examining the history and place of the car show in the early days of motoring. Vehicles being exercised are a 1926 Kissel 8-75 Speedster, 1929 duPont 2-passenger speedster, 1935 Auburn 851 Speedster and 1953 Studebaker Commander.

The third annual Bootlegger’s Ball is scheduled for February 12 at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in northeast Indiana. The event, done in partnership with Auburn’s Eckhart Public Library, celebrates the passage of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ending prohibition.

“Pint With The Past” returns to the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, on February 12. The event features craft-brewed beer tasting amid the museum’s car collection, and with live music by a contemporary blues band or by an “easy-listening” guitarist. There is a special reduced admission fee for those arriving as designated drivers.

The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, continues its lecture series at 3 p.m. February 13 with Brian Baker of the Automotive Hall of Fame presenting “Black American Automotive Pioneers in Michigan.”

The Canadian Automobile Museum in Oshawa, Ontario, hosts Third Thursday lecture series for February on the 17th with “The Death and Legacy of Sam McLaughlin – Looking Back After 50 Years” presented by Samantha George of the Parkwood National Historic Site.

Lord Montagu will share the history of his local Totton to Fawley railway in a special presentation February 19 at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, England. The presentation, which also will feature filmmaker Nick Lera, launches the museum’s spring lecture series.

BRM V16 Type 15 | Museum photo

Formula 1 racing with a family focus will be featured during the “half-term” school break at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, UK, February 19-27. Featured will be arrival at the museum of the V16 BRM Type 15 chassis IV from the early 1950s.

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles and the Ferrari Club of America stages the Enzo Ferrari Cruise-In from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on February 27.

The Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, opens its car show season February 27 with the Loma Prieta Region of the Porsche Club of America. Upcoming events are May 1, NCCA 40th annual all-Corvette show; June 4, Alfa Romeo car club; June 19, Fathers Day show; August 7, NCCA Vette Magic 46 show; September 10, East Bay Street Dreams show.

“Driving After Sundown,” an exhibit sharing the history of automotive lighting, officially opens March 1 at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

One of the hidden gems among car museums, the Martin Museum in Phoenix, opens in its new location on March 5 with a car show. The museum’s new and much larger location is at the corner of 43rd Avenue and Thunderbird on the west side of Phoenix.

John Oates and Guthrie Trapp perform March 26 in a concert in Newport, Rhode Island, to benefit the Audrain Automobile Museum. 

The Mustang Owner’s Museum in Concord, North Carolina, launches its car-show calendar on March 27 with a “Fords on Sunday” event.

The spring lecture series at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, England, continues April 23 with Alan Chandler discussing petroliana collecting.

The LeMay Collection at Marymount in Tacoma, Washington, will offer Driver’s Ed: Model T Experience events May 14, June 11, July 9, August 14 and September 11.

A second wave of vehicles arrives September 22, 2022, and run through May 14, 2023, in “The Allure of the Extreme” supercar showcase at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

The Revs Institute in Naples, Florida, hosts a combined meeting of the World Forum for Motor Museums and the National Association of Automobile Museums from November 9-12.

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email [email protected]

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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