LONDON – The rise and fall of cars and how vehicles have shaped the modern world will be explored in a new exhibition.
London’s Victoria and Albert Museum will investigate the 130-year history of automobiles, from Karl Benz’s Patent-Motorwagen No. 3, the first car produced in history, to the Audi Pop. Up Next, an unmanned flying electric vehicle.
Curator Brendan Cormier told Efe: “The starting point of the show is to understand the car is the most important object of the 20th Century and that it has changed more about daily life, the shape of our cities, the shape of our planet than any other kind of designed object.”
Other highlights will include a General Motors Firebird, one of a series of prototype cars developed in the 1950s which were said to have a top speed of 200mph.
A total of 15 vehicles will feature in the show, including a three-wheeled bubble car designed by aircraft engineer Fritz Fend.
Cormier said car ownership was seen as a sign of progress and status for people.
“To buy your own car, to own your own car was to attain a level of status that was reflected in the growing economies in the West in particular but also in developing countries where the motorization of a country was closely tied to the idea of progress of a nation,” he added.
“That gets expressed in all kinds of ways through the marketing of cars, how they’re sold, how people are convinced that to buy a car to own a car is an example of making it in the world.
“To the idea of cars as technological progress, as a reflection of human ingenuity and allowing you to be able to do things you were never able to do before.”
The exhibition will also bring together 250 objects related to vehicles, including driving goggles, tools used for the manufacture of cars, strike banners against motorization and miniature replicas.
It will also address the environmental damage that the manufacturing and use of vehicles has done.
He added that the rise of the combustible engine has had “incredible environmental devastation” and that “design ingenuity” needs to focus on making cars a “more sustainable prospect.”
“Cars: Accelerating the Modern World” will open to the public on Nov. 23 and run until April 19.