Feature: Michael Schumacher's personal collection on display in Cologne
Motorsport Week reflects on a recent visit to Motorworld Cologne-Rhineland, where Michael Schumacher's personal collection of memorabilia is on display.
The Motorworld exhibition complex is in a newly-constructed non-descript industrial estate, across the road from an Ikea, in a northern suburb of Cologne, a stone’s throw away from the town of Kerpen, where Schumacher grew up, and where the famous kart circuit is located.
Most of Motorworld, which is a converted aircraft hangar, is given over to an exhibition hall and a meticulously clean showroom that houses classic cars – which in itself is an attraction – but in the upstairs section is a free-to-visit museum in which there are 12 original Formula 1 cars, helmets, and trophies driven, worn and won by, statistically, the greatest driver to have competed in the championship.
Some of Schumacher’s early single-seaters are present, along with the 1990 Sauber-Mercedes sportscar that he raced, but undoubtedly the star attractions are the Formula 1 machines. The sleek green-liveried Jordan 191 – regularly regarded as one of the most beautiful racing cars of all time – kick starts a showcase of machines that culminates in an assortment of scarlet Ferraris that defined a generation.
An entire cabinet is given over to Schumacher’s trophy collection, providing an impressive display of silverware, each pot with their own story to tell. Two are given their own special place in the centre of the building. One, understandably, is a replica of the 2004 World Championship trophy (or the original, if some stories are to be believed), while the other is the winner’s trophy from the 2000 Japanese Grand Prix: the stunning victory that sealed his first world title with Ferrari, and third overall.
Schumacher’s helmets and caps also take pride of place. The all-red designs are the iconic pieces but also present are some special editions, his early white-and-blue schemes and also a red wig. Why? The seemingly odd headwear was what he sported on the podium in Malaysia 19 years ago to celebrate Ferrari wrapping up the Constructors’ Championship. There are also more left-field items, such as a wall dedicated to a collage of press clippings, and a cabinet that contains several FIA passes belonging to Schumacher and his wife.
There is, though, an underlying sadness to the exhibition on account of the unspoken and unwritten events that unfolded five years ago, and which have robbed the racing world of Schumacher’s presence in the public eye. This is his personal collection made public, a gift from family to fans, and it is evocative to walk among the plethora of memorabilia that defined a generation. If you are ever in the region it is worth a visit but failing that it is now possible to take a virtual tour of the museum through the official Michael Schumacher App, launched by his family to celebrate his 50th birthday.