The new ŠKODA MUZEUM: the brand’s multimedial world of experience

The brand’s multimedial world of experience
Fascinating journey through 117 years of company history. Individuals and their stories bring brand’s history alive. 46 cars, hundreds of exhibits, films and documents on over 1,800 sqm of floor space.
The stage is set for the new ŠKODA MUZEUM in Mladá Boleslav. This completely redesigned showcase for the brand on Václava Klementa street will take visitors on a captivating trip through the company’s history, one that is diverse, interactive and multimedial. It is an exhilarating journey across117 years of ŠKODA AUTO, illustrated by cars, films, testimonials and document, all of them presented in a modern fashion on more than 1,800 sqm of exhibition space in historic production halls. This is a special kind of museum, not least thanks to its new multifunctional Laurin & Klement Forum and its modern VÁCLAV café-restaurant. The entire refurbishing took about nine months.

Located at the origin and the home of the company, the new ŠKODA MUZEUM presents fascinating highlights of one of the most tradition-rich carmakers in a wholly new fashion. Besides its products, this involves individuals and their very personal ŠKODA stories playing a leading role again and again. The new museum also features a special note thanks to the new “Laurin & Klement Forum” and the “VÁCLAV” café-restaurant. A multifunctional space for almost all kinds of events, the “Laurin & Klement Forum” is one of the most modern venues in the Czech Republic.

Visitors can dive deeply into the history of the brand thanks to three topical zones with 46 historic vehicles, several hundred individual exhibits as well as period films, photos and documents. The designers of the new museum had more in mind than merely creating new exhibition space, and so they assembled a mass of content highlights, provided a clear structure to the exhibition and enabled a modern, interactive transfer of knowledge. The museum’s exterior has given the historic building a stunning new appearance, and the high quality of workmanship and precision in execution is a testament to the brand’s tradition.

“ŠKODA is one of the most tradition-rich automobile brands in the world. The entire company is proud of its history,” says ŠKODA CEO Prof. Dr. h.c. Winfried Vahland. “The new ŠKODA MUZEUM is a special expression of this pride. It is a calling card, a meeting point, a communication platform and an attraction all in one, a multimedial place to experience our brand. In the years to come, ŠKODA intends to grow worldwide. When you think about overtaking, you need to look into your rear-view mirror regularly. This is what we do with the new museum, and we do so in a historic location in a fascinating way.“

“Evolution,” “Tradition” and “Precision” as the exhibition’s guiding themes
A union of “Tradition,” “Precision” and “Evolution”constitutes the guiding theme of the new museum’s content. Three worlds of experience, each with its own accent make a visit thrilling, enriching and surprising. A mixture of vehicles and stories runs through the exhibition like a guiding thread, all of its elements presented in multimedial and interactive settings, providing the visitor with a range of options: from merely looking at cars and exhibits to browsing pictures and films to in-depth reading –flexibility is what the new ŠKODA MUZEUM is about.

The “Evolution” section offers an attractive trip through time acrossŠKODA’s rich and coloured past, replete with real dream cars, original documents, films, animations and explanatory notes. What were the brand’s most important cars? Who were its founders? Which technological breakthroughs does the company boast? The “Evolution” section offers a wide variety of answers.

At the heart of the “Evolution” are 14 outstanding ŠKODA milestones: from the first L&K bicycle to the present-day VisionD design study. Arranged in chronological order, these vehicles trace decades of ingenuity and creativity all the way to the present. Providing historic orientation are films running on broad monitor bands above the cars. Screens placed directly behind the models offer additional information.

A real eye catcher within “Evolution” is the “car shelf” displaying 20 of the brand’s jewels: fire engines, racecars, but also bestsellers. Complementing the cars both in the product chronology and on the car shelf is the so-called technology gallery, offering a journey through the brand’s entire technology history illustrated with many exhibits, pictures and documents.ŠKODA technology, then, can be seen and felt here, with media installations, films and interactive information also on hand.

“Tradition” is about the brand’s values, focusing on “Pride in the brand”, “Everyday utility” and “Challenges.” Visitors are shown pairs of vehicles, each one from a different era, that spell out what the brand’s identity. State limousines, cars for the masses and racecars, there hardly is another brand displaying as much diversity as ŠKODA.

This is borne out by numerous stories of contemporaries from all walks of life, from Miss USA 1957 to Czech football celebrity Milan Baros.

The third major exhibition area looks at “Precision” in the production and restoration of cars. One topic is the role of Mladá Boleslav as a central manufacturing location and the origin of the company’s tradition. Films, documents, large-scale picture panels and flip albums bring the historic production facility alive and involve the visitor personally. The restoration section provides first-hand impressions, showing four classic ŠKODAs at different stages of rejuvenation, from barn find to gem. Exhibits complement the section and again make the visitor feel in the middle of the shop floor.

Event venue with a unique atmosphere
In the midst of the exhibition is another highlight of the new ŠKODA MUZEUM: the new “Laurin & Klement Forum,” a 930 sqm multifunctional space providing the perfect venue for ŠKODA events and special exhibitions, but also suitable for external functions and seating just under 600. High-tech solutions such as the retractable multifunction stage and a grandstand that is also retractable make the “Laurin & Klement Forum” one of the Czech Republic’s most advanced event locations. It is also the only such venue in Eastern Central Europe that is connected to a historic automobile production site.

The modern VÁCLAV café-restaurant is sure to become a gourmet destination sought after in the city and the region, offering a high-quality selection of food and drink, a friendly atmosphere and a modern setting within historic surroundings.
The museum also features a child area (254 sqm) that has been completely refurbished and which the little ones can discover the world ofŠKODA and try their race driving skills on a Bobby car. A museum shop rounds off the new ŠKODA Museum.

Historic location with a modern look
The new ŠKODA MUZEUM is a brand centre in a special place. This, after all, is one of the cradles of European car production. The building, a three-story industrial structure in sober, clear architecture is part of a ŠKODA plant complex that is over one hundred years old, having been built between 1898 and 1912. Which cars exactly were made here is unclear. What is known is that engines were made here. Later, the building was long used as an office complex, until the ŠKODA MUZEUM first moved here in 1995.

The building's central location on Václava Klementa street between the plant and the city underscores the close links between ŠKODA and the city of Mladá Boleslav. “This is where the brand’s heart beats,” says CEO Vahland. The Václava Klementa is the central thoroughfare running between the city centre and ŠKODA’s main plant, placing the ŠKODA MUZEUM very clearly at a dialogue point between the production facility and the city.

Every inch of the buildings breathes automobile history. A comprehensive modern museum design in such an authentic setting is unique in the automobile industry. “This is down-to-earth and simply clever at the same time, in other words, it is typically ŠKODA,” says CEO Vahland.

Inside the museum, hardly a brick was left in its place as the interior was almost completely gutted and refurbished. The entire technical infrastructure has been installed anew, whether it is the electrical installation, ventilation, lighting, heating or air-conditioning. More than 100 kms of new electrical cables and three kilometres of new heating ducts have been laid to create a new light, fresh and thoroughly modern museum architecture sensitively set among the historic halls.

Wherever possible, the building’s architects made use of historic structures.“It is the mixture of a historic building and modern interior design that makes the new museum so exciting and unique,” says Dieter Hundt, creative director of the buildings architects, jangled nerves of Stuttgart, Germany.

The building’s exterior has been given a thorough freshening-up. The museum now appears clear, open and inviting at first glance, the building’s outside unchanged in architecture, though it was given a new layer of plaster and made to appear brighter and friendlier. The building’s colour scheme is a modern white and grey.

The large ŠKODA MUZEUM lettering clearly announces the structure’s identity, the name being repeated in three-dimensional letters beside the main entrance.
Eight large banners 75 x 250 centimetres in size and hung from the building’s main-street-facing (Václava Klementa) side mark out the building and highlight current topics such as special exhibitions. They can be easily replaced as necessary.

The building’s arcade along Václava Klementa is its show window, providing pedestrians with a sheltered passage but also offering a first glance of the museum’s “Evolution” section. “It is a large show window with the character of a gallery carrying a strong invitational message,” says Dieter Hundt.

The museum’s redesigned forecourt and entrance are to the side of the main street. Extending the gallery along the main street to the side of the main entrance is another large show window providing a view of the exhibition, thus stimulating visitors’ curiosity.

Once inside the building, visitors are aware of what expects them at all times thanks to a new digital and analogue signage. All functions and related elements of the static and dynamic guidance system are arranged individually room by room.

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