Museo Automobile Torino
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The Automobile Museum was set up in 1932 based on the idea of two pioneers of Italian motoring,Cesare Goria Gatti and Roberto Biscaretti di Ruffia (the first President of the Turin Automobile Club and one of the founders of the Fiat company), and is one of the oldest Automobile Museums in the world.
It was Carlo Biscaretti di Ruffia(Roberto’s son), a Turin aristocrat born in 1879, who attached his name permanently to the National Automobile Museum, since he was the one who conceived it, gathered together the initial collection, strove to bring it into being and worked his whole life to give it decent headquarters. Carlo Biscaretti was also its first President and on his death in September 1959, the Board of Directors passed a resolution to name the Museum after him; it was then formally opened on 3 November 1960.
This is the only National Museum of this kind in Italy, housed in the premises designed by the architect Amedeo Albertini, on the left bank of the Po river and a short distance from the Lingotto; it is one of the few buildings specially constructed to house a museum collection, and is also a rare example of modern architecture.
The Museum has one of the rarest and most interesting collections of its kind, with almost 200 original cars dating from the mid-19th century to the present day, and over eighty different makes of vehicle, from Italy, France, Great Britain, Germany, Holland, Spain, Poland and the United States. In 2002 the Museum directors started to think about works to renew the structure and contents. Forty years had passed, and the Museum had by now become dated and obsolete, so that change was needed to make it more appealing.
The work of the examining board for the international competition to renew the Museum was concluded in summer 2005. Around fifty world-level architecture studios took part, and the winner was the group composed of the architect Cino Zucchi, the Recchi Engineering Srl company and the Proger SpA firm.
The winning design (which complied with the requirements as advertised, using a coherent approach that could reorganise the existing building and create new spaces to relate to the city), included the relationship between the quick visual perception from Corso Unità d’Italia and the defining of a more enclosed pedestrian area at the point where it joins Via Richelmy.
In common with many contemporary European examples, the strictly display functions will be supplemented by a set of complementary activities to make the Automobile Museum come alive at all times of day and evening, and become an element to lead the way in the urban renewal of the city’s southern quadrant.
Zucchi’s design will be enhanced with the displays by the Franco-Swiss set-designer Francois Confino.
The experience acquired by Francois Confino in other, similar projects (he designed the interior fittings for the Turin Cinema Museum), played a useful role in devising a brand-new concept that will place the Turin Museum at the cutting-edge in the field of the art of exhibiting motor cars. The guiding principle will be “the car observed as a creation of genius and of the human imagination”, to make people aware of, and appreciate the immense pool of talent, creativity, craftsmanship and entrepreneurial abilities that exist in Turin and in Piedmont.
In the new Museum, we will tell the story of the motor car, its transformation from a means of transport to an object of worship, from its origins right up to the contemporary evolution of creative thought. Through the evolution of the car, we will narrate the epoch-making times that society has experienced.
This is the last floor to be visited, entirely devoted to design, or the planning that goes into a car, the creative path that precedes the production of a motor car and which it depends on. 1,200 square metres and one single large room tell us about how the great designers of today interpret the themes of individual mobility, safety, speed, comfort and style. The car is at the same time both a flying carpet - a magic device allowing us to move in defiance of our physical capabilities - and a mobile home and den, with passenger areas being more and more comfortable and welcoming- a sort of travelling replica of our own living room. Achieving certain objectives is difficult, exhausting and time-consuming, and involves all the designers’ abilities and resources. Listening to how some of the greatest designers in the world have done it, are still doing it and will continue to do it in the future is an enormous pleasure that is not to be missed.
A common trait. Design identifies an era because it is an expression of the culture prevailing during that era. The lines of these cars certainly differ and this is intentional, each one is specific to its brand and origin. But they have one thing in common, each speaks of the character of their time. This is the meaning of morphing (an English word derived from the Greek, morphé, shape) to which the lines of these splendid cars are subjected, icons of thirty years of design. They are evidence of a continuity of formal expression that translates into a superimposition of shapes, but without detracting from their diversity, originality and uniqueness.
Cars on show: Cisitalia 202 SMM spider Nuvolari (Italy 1947), Alfa Romeo Disco Volante (Italy 1952), Lancia Flaminia presidenziale (Italy 1961), Abarth 2400 coupé Allemano (Italy 1964), Alfa Romeo 2600 touring spider(Italy 1965), Maserati Mexico (Italy 1968), Ferrari 208 GTB turbo (1982).
The floor is divided into eight rooms with an exhibition area of 3,800 square metres. Visitors are guided around by the desire to examine in depth some individual aspects of the relationship that the modern-day world – that is, all of us – has with the car, and also to understand better what really constitutes a motor car, and how it is built. “Autorino” re-evokes what the car, in terms of industries, work and progress, meant during most of the last century for the city of Turin. “Mechanical Symphony”, on the other hand, invites us to discover what lies under a car’s outward appearance, its “soul”: the engine, frame, wheels, all the pieces in a single orchestra. But how is a car constructed? “Metamorphosis” shows us one from the inside, letting us enter that complex system of industrial production based on the assembly line. From how to produce a car to how to sell it: here we have “Advertising”, the innocent beginnings of the early twentieth century up to the sophisticated persuasive techniques of today. But cars can lead to “Madness” if they become a dominant, obsessive and morbid preoccupation. And if they do not lead to madness, they can lead to individual mobility becoming mass mobility, and eating away at itself, transmuting paradoxically into an obstacle to free circulation, as “Jungle” tells us. And we then arrive at the exciting world of racing, of pure speed, of the challenge on the circuit (“Formula”), illustrated by the 20 “Automobilissimo” showcases. And finally, the beginning of the “Design” section, which is further developed on the ground floor.
Turin, city of the motor car: this is a cliché that for many people means just that the Fiat company originated in Turin, but in fact it signifies a much more complex and variegated situation. Over 70 car companies started up in Turin in the twentieth century, as well as over 80 bodywork manufacturers and Turin is still today the headquarters of centres of excellence in the project and design fields. A map imprinted on the floor will allow you to reconstruct this extraordinary role of the motor car “capital”.
Vehicles on display: Fiat 500 (Italia 1968), Storero A 25/35 HP (Italia 1914), Scat-Ceirano 150 S (Italia 1926),Temperino 8/10 HP (Italia 1920), Fiat 509 A (Italia 1929), FOD 18 HP (Italia 1926).
This floor is where the visit starts. 21 rooms, over an area of 3,600 square metres, tell how the car was born, was developed and became popular, keeping pace with the evolution of the 20th century. The itinerary is circular and takes visitors from the Library in “Genesis”, the first room, where information about the origin of locomotion is given and homage is paid to the many ingenious precursors of the mechanical engine, to the “Destiny” room, the last on this floor. Here, an attempt is made to get us to imagine the world we will find ourselves living in tomorrow. In between, there are nineteen other rooms telling the story of the twentieth century, taking in Futurism, the First World War, the advent of the utilitarian car, the Italian school of body work, the discovery of aerodynamics, female emancipation, the race towards mass production, the fall of the Berlin Wall, American advertising slogans, consumerism and ecology. It’s a story with many different threads, the guiding principle being to make us understand how far the motor car influenced, conditioned and favoured the most distinctive historical, economic, artistic and social events of the last century.
A homage to the many precursors who, over the last five centuries, have searched for a way to move and transport people and goods, that was not tied to the physical strength of animals. On the shelves of the large Genesis library there are some of the thousands of ideas that have preceded and, in some cases, made possible the advent of the real motor car (or rather, of an object that could move on its own), which would make its appearance at the end of the nineteenth century.
Vehicles on display: self-propelled wagon imagined by Leonardo da Vinci nel 1478 (reconstruction), Carro di Cugnot (Francia 1769).
With ALFA ROMEO 155 V6 TI
The 1996 International Touring Car Championship once again witnessed Opel, Mercedes and Alfa Romeo all competing at the highest possible levels of technology.
Alfa Romeo just missed the title by 9 points in the last race after being neck and neck with Opel.
From Hockenheim to Suzuka, 13 races of 2 heats each on tracks around the world; Alessandro Nannini, the spearhead of the Italian team, took the top step of the podium seven times being the overall driver who won the most.
Very nice collection from all the historic phasma of automobile history from the A to Z,as classic car historian, author & phototgrapher, I like to thank all the museum staff for the help and hospitality. I hope to visit it again because 2 times is not enough! Vasileios Papaidis
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