Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) was established in 1916 and originally made aero engines for military aircraft. When this was forbidden in Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, the company turned to produce motor cycles from 1923 and motor cars from 1928. The first cars were modelled on the British Austin 7. The company is now one of the world’s most successful manufacturers and its museum is consequently lavish. It is situated alongside the main BMW manufacturing centre in Munich and visits can be combined with visits to BMW Welt (BMW World) that displays current developments, and with guided tours of the working factory.
The museum displays motor cars as works of art, and through simulators allows visitors to experience what it is like to drive a BMW to go shopping, or on spectacular mountain roads. Some displays include Minis, now made at Cowley, Oxford, and Rolls Royces made at Goodwood, as well as BMW’s experimental electric cars. The displays follow seven themes: the House of Design, the House of the Company, the House of the Motorcycle, the House of Technology, the House of Motor Sport, the House of the Brand (which concerns advertising and marketing), and the House of the Series concerned with phases of development.