The Schlumpf Collection is certainly the most prestigious car collection in the world. This is demonstrated by the two Bugatti Royales, including the famous Coupé Napoléon, the 150 Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza, Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Maserati, Maybach, Mercedes models, etc. It was in a former Mulhouse woollen mill, with its typically 19th century architecture, that Fritz Schlumpf established his fabulous collection of 437 cars belonging to 97 different brands. With this unique collection, the Cité de l’Automobile sees itself as being to cars what the Louvre is to art.
- Birth of the collection
Hans and Fritz Schlumpf were born in Italy. Their mother Jeanne, however, came from Mulhouse which was where, once widowed, she decided to raise her sons. The two brothers were uncommonly devoted to their mother. In 1940, at the age of 34, Fritz was the chairman of a spinning mill in Malmerspach. In 1935 the Schlumpf brothers founded a limited liability company for the wool industry, and their fortunes grew. Fritz collected cars and, from 1964 on, housed them in his Mulhouse spinning mill… the future museum.
Fritz Schlumpf was driven by an abiding love for beautiful automotive engineering, and he bought the most desirable models. Over the years nearly 400 items (vehicles, chassis and engines) were quietly grouped at the Mulhouse factory. The crew hired to restore them was bound by an oath of secrecy, and a wing of the former spinning mill was luxuriously refurbished.
- A strike becomes the “Schlumpf’s affair”
By the 1970s, the textile industry was in decline. In 1976 the Schlumpf brothers sold their factories. In October of that year the Malmerspach plant had to lay off employees, and a strike broke out. The Schlumpfs fled to Switzerland. In Mulhouse in March 1977 union activists broke into the “museum” and to their astonishment discovered the collection. Renamed the “Workers’ Factory”, the place was occupied for the next two years.
Under threat of sale to cover the corporation’s debts, the car collection was classified a French historic monument in 1978 by the Council of State. It was later sold in 1981 to the National Automobile Museum Association.
- Museum’s opening
After many ups and downs, the museum opened to the public in 1982 under the aegis of its association. The National Automobile Museum Association of Mulhouse, composed of local public authorities and private partners, bought the collections, land and buildings. Management of the museum was placed in the hands of the National Automobile Museum of Mulhouse Management Association. In 1999 this association asked Culturespaces to modernise the museum and its operations.
- Year 2000 renovation
To bring the National Automobile Museum of Mulhouse into the 21st century, Culturespaces renovated the museum from top to bottom while conserving the well-known main hall with its Pont Alexandre III lamp posts.
- The collection
The collection is displayed in three main sections:
- The Motorcar Experience,
- Motor Racing,
- Motorcar Masterpieces
The cars are presented in chronological order. At the entrance, visitors are given free of charge an audioguide. The tour has been enhanced by new sections, films, driving simulators, robots and attractions such as sound programmes. Rather than being a museum aimed only at vintage car enthusiasts, it has been transformed, by Culturespaces, into a lively and exciting place for both collectors and the general public alike.
- FRITZ SCHUMPF’S PASSION
The film ; As a preamble to your visit, discover, through a film, the story of this famous collection and the founding of the museum with all the excitement it aroused.
The Esders Bugatti ; Upon Fritz Schlumpf’s insistence, this car was totally rebuilt in the museum’s workshops from original parts.
The Motorcar experience
The Grand Prix starting line Feel all the drivers’ excitement at the start of a race in the “espace course” (racing area): the scenery, the noise, the pictures and the smells let you live the moment as if you were there.
- The lively visit
Attractions : The cars are open to the general public for you to explore. You can have your picture taken behind the wheel, start a motor with a crank, or experience a car rolling in a specially-made vehicle.
The production line ; From forge to robot. A Film and two large, spectacular assembly robots show how cars are made today.
- Driving Simulators
Young and old will enjoy the driving simulators testing their skills in the 24-hour Le Mans race or at a rally.
The Car of Tomorrow : The Car of the Year and the Car of Tomorrow: the most outstanding car of the year is displayed on a rotating stage, together with a prototype that may change the future.
The audioguide tour
Wander at will through the museum and satisfy your curiosity with the interactive audioguide that you are given free of charge at the entrance.
There are five language versions available. More than 180 exciting descriptions tell you all you want to know about cars, drivers, builders and champion racing drivers.
- Films on plasma screen
28 films on large screens and plasma displays relate the history of the motorcar and the main contributors to its story. You will know all there is to know about the latest car news.
Displayed in this vast section of the museum are 200 classic cars, dating from the very first cars ever made, to those of the 1970s, with the exception of racing cars and “prestige” cars of the period between the great wars.
- The Forerunners
The motorcar did not spring from the imagination of a single inventor. It emerged from the mastery of all the arts and technologies.
The “forerunners” period extended from 1895 to 1918, which saw the first Panhard, Peugeot, De Dion and Benz,