In the Lingotto area of Turin is a car museum that combines Turin’s history of manufacturing Fiats with the humans’ love of the automobile. In a sleek, grey, ultra-modern structure, the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile offers something for everyone. With three floors of exhibits and vehicles, this museum combines history, art and auto design with a common thread of how history and the times have impacted vehicles.
Entry to the museum is 12 euros and exhibitions start at the top floor, working downward. Exhibits include displays on the world’s first self-propelled vehicles, solar-driven cars, breaking speed barriers and how history has impacted auto production.
With Italian design and well-written bilingual exhibition descriptions in Italian and English, this museum is a find. Exhibition rooms include cars with chandeliers (basically, a high-end vehicle stable), how World War I and World War II impacted vehicle manufacturing and even exhibitions of vehicle production in the former Eastern Bloc, as search lights eerily follow visitors looking at the East German Trabant. The fall of the Berlin Wall is included in the Trabant display design and the screams are scary.
Exhibitions include how cars were impacted during the “Roaring Twenties” with films and photos of dancing the Charleston as well as gangsters’ need for vehicles.
A 1936 black Mercedes-Benz is on display with photos from Germany in the background. Looking at the car and the grainy black-and-white photos gives visitors a foreboding of World War II. I stopped to think about what was going on in Germany at the time as well as what would sadly happen in the next few years.
An exhibition on the Great Depression includes photos of the 1929 Great Stock Market Crash, along with resulting bread lines. A 1932 Austin Seven is included in this particular exhibit for the few who could afford vehicles.
A U.S. military Jeep is included in the displays in remembrance of the Allies marching through Italy.
Large cars from the 1950s are featured as well as vehicles decorated in a “flower power” motif from the 1960s “Summer of Love” (along with music of the times). Exhibits include record albums showing how cars were prominently featured in album covers.
Muscle cars and the globalization of vehicle manufacturing are included in the exhibitions. Local pride and love of Fiat (the “T” in Fiat stands for Torino—the Italian name for Turin) is evident throughout the museum.
One room includes a range of beautiful sports cars and I almost felt like James Bond being given my latest “toy” from Q.
This museum is not a typical car museum with rooms full of cars with little information. The Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile instead represents Italian design at its best and with a mixture of history, art and extensive exhibits and information. I easily spent several hours looking at various displays (and I know nothing about cars). Both car lovers and those who know nothing about automobiles will equally enjoy this museum.
For visitors to the museum arriving by Metro, the subway ride from central Turin (Porto Nuova) to Lingotto will take no more than ten minutes. The signage outside the Lingotto Metro station, however, is not clear but be sure to walk away from the former Fiat factory and turn towards the River Po. The museum will be about a five or six block walk, right along the river.
The Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile is a fitting representation of Turin’s pride in manufacturing. A monument befitting local history in Turin’s industry, this museum represents Italian design at its best.
Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile
Corso Unita d’Italia 40
10126 Torino, Italy