On October 12, the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA), located in Raleigh, opened a show titled, Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed. Exhibitions of exceptional automobiles have become extreme popular with art museums, but NCMA's show is not only the museum's first design show, it is the first museum show in the United States to feature a selection of automobiles manufactured by one company.
"At the NCMA", explains Lawrence J. Wheeler, NCMA's director, "we are continually looking for ways to engage our audience with exhibitions and installations that help interpret the world around us through the lens of art and design. Porsche by Design traces the evolution of these magnificent automobiles, but by virtue of putting them in a museum setting, we are challenged to see them in a different way: as objects of beauty that transcend their use for transportation."
Twenty-two of the German-made machines are on display, carefully selected by guest curator Ken Gross and managing curator, Barbara Wiedemann. A respected automotive journalist, Gross is the former director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. "Porsche by Design brings together one of the most significant collections of Porsche automobiles ever assembled," Gross says. "More than 'just a show about cars,' the exhibition emphasizes the innate beauty of aerodynamic design, inseparably linked with engineering genius."
Included among the automobiles on display: a 1938/39 Type 64 Berlin-Rom designed by the company's founder, Ferdinand Porsche. This unique car is the wellspring from which the Porsche legend was born. A handcrafted 1949 aluminum-bodied Gmund coupe, designed by Porsche's son, "Ferry" is one of fifty constructed at Porsche's first factory, a converted sawmill in Gmund, a small town near Stuttgart.
Steve McQueen loved to go fast and his 1958 Type 356A Speedster is the first car the "movie star motorhead" bought new. The car was loaned to the museum by McQueen's son, Chad. On loan from the Joplin family and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland, Janice Joplin's 1965 Type 356C Cabriolet's with its famous psychedelic paint job reflects the singer's ebullient style.
Competition cars include a rare Type 804 Formula One race car. One of only four built. Dan Gurney drove the car to victory at the 1962 French Grand Prix. A 1971 Type 917K was raced by the famous Martini Racing Team. Powered by a flat-twelve engine, the Type 917 is one of the most iconic race cars of all time. Featuring a revolutionary F1 kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), a 2010 Type 911 GT3 R Hybrid race car is powered by two electric motors and a flat-six engine.
The organizers of the exhibition believe Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed, will appeal to two groups. Car lovers will appreciate the automobile's rarity and engineering genius. Art lovers will be intrigued by Porsche design and the connections that can be drawn with others works of art. All will gain a deep appreciation for hallmarks of the Porsche Marque: beauty, artistry, technology and innovation.
Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed was open through January 20, 2014. If you would like more information, please call the North Carolina Art Museum at 919-715-5923 or visit their web site at www.ncartmuseum.org/porsche
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