Eight Munich culture spots you need to know

From Bauhaus to Bavarian palaces and BMW, Munich has something for everyone

Mike MacEacheran is a travel journalist for brands including Lonely Planet, the BBC, The Observer and The Sunday Times.



For old-world splendour: The Residenz

Built as a castle in 1385, The Residenz served as a seat of government and home for Bavarian kings for centuries, and today is a must-visit for its vaulted Antiquarium. The oldest room in the building, has a must be seen to be believed 66m-long Renaissance hall, and every inch is plastered with statues, busts, figurines and frescos.

For Teutonic tectonics: BMW Museum

Bayerische Motoren Werke – or BMW – was born in Munich more than a century ago, yet shows no signs of aging at its futuristic visitor centre. First loop around the BMW Museum, examining the hangar’s worth of gleaming models and two-seater roadsters, then consider the company’s second-to-none art car collection. A particular stand-out? The BMW M1, a four-wheeled masterpiece created by Andy Warhol.

For female empowerment: Barbara Gross Galerie

Munich’s Museum Quarter has many places to recommend it – but this courtyard gallery on Theresienstrasse is somewhat different. Born to showcase under-represented female artists, the Barbara Gross Galerie philosophy remains somewhat the same nearly 20 years later. Expect works from the likes of French-American master sculptress Louise Bourgeois and New York visual maestro Nancy Spero.

For a stairway to nowhere: Umschreibung

Far from a conventional financial company asset, Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s double helix staircase draws visitors, somewhat unpredictably, into the courtyard of a nondescript KPMG office building. Located at 29 Ganghoferstrasse, the Umschreibung is an architectural puzzle of an artwork, made from two interlocked spiral staircases with a twist. Follow the continuous loop and it’ll bring you back to where you started.

For Bauhaus and Beuys: Pinakothek der Moderne

Another part of the banner Museum Quarter, the Pinakothek der Moderne is one of a trilogy of associated art galleries dedicated to old, new and modern art movements. Among the highlights – and there are plenty – are profound insights into the work of German all-rounder Joseph Beuys, and Max Ernst, an early pioneer of the Dada movement.

For swords and sculpture: Bavarian National Museum

It’s hard to argue with the Bavarian National Museum’s two millennia of European art and culture – you could spend a month here and still be spotting new things. The best advice is to focus on the Gothic wing, housing one of Europe’s largest collections of mediaeval sculpture, then the Knight’s Hall, dedicated to spectacular ceremonial armour.

For a splash of pop art: Galerie Sabine Knust

Art Basel regular Sabine Knust first opened this gallery in 1982, a long time before she ever dreamt of hosting exhibitions by heavyweights Per Kirkeby, Julian Schnabel and Andy Warhol (yes, him again). But while her Galerie Sabine Knust has a reputation for bringing the masters to Munich, it also strikes a fine balance between supporting the German old guard and lesser-known progressives.

For beer culture: Bier und Oktoberfest Museum

Munich isn’t short of traditional, wood-panelled halls offering frothy steins, but it rarely tells the story of this obsession. Step forward the Bier und Oktoberfest Museum, housed in the city’s oldest historic townhouse, and chronicling the transformation of the city’s famous festival from a royal wedding horse race into the world’s largest party. Naturally, there are beer tastings and a pub, too.

Stay one more night

Stay at Mandarin Oriental, Munich and enjoy a third night free (valid from 2 January to 8 April 2018). With a coveted location in the beautiful Old Town, Mandarin Oriental, Munich offers the perfect blend of luxury and style.

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