Page Overview: BMW Group - Responsibility - Commitment - Culture



Cultural engagement at the BMW Group.

Key Visual Kultur Mobile



Culture is knowledge, a haven of beauty and depth. Meaning and tranquillity far from the maddening crowd. A solitary experience of empathy, especially during these trying times. As a corporate citizen, the BMW Group has been involved in hundreds of cultural initiatives worldwide for 50 years. Since 2003, Kulturmobile, an employee initiative, has drawn tens of thousands of colleagues' attention to the company's cultural programmes and has invited them to participate. Due to the current situation, where many colleagues work from home, we now present CultureMobile: The Literature Podcast. An offer to all employees worldwide, to enjoy outside their working hours. As well as for everyone who follows our company on social media. Tune in and enjoy!

The BMW Group participates in the Gallery Weekend Berlin.

Social commitment is a major concern of the BMW Group. There is no doubt that cultural engagement is part of the BMW Group.

Maximilian Schöberl

Head of BMW Group Corporate and Governmental Affairs and Executive Vice President

With over 100 projects worldwide, BMW Group's cultural commitment has been an essential part of corporate communications for 50 years now. Unrestricted freedom of creative potential is of the utmost importance, as it is equally as crucial for the field of art as it is for ground-breaking innovations within a successful business enterprise. The BMW Group places the main focus of its cultural commitment on modern and contemporary art, jazz and classical music as well as architecture and design.

Cultural management as part of the BMW Group.

BMW Group cultural engagement.

“You”, the brochure about international cultural engagement at the BMW Group.

Classical music and jazz.

The BMW Group is aware of its social responsibility in the field of culture and is involved in the sustainable and long-term support of projects in all areas of artistic expression on an international level.

The BMW Group established one of the first public-private partnerships in Germany, Spielmotor München e.V., back in 1979. Spielmotor München e.V. incorporated the Münchener Biennale – Festival für neues Musiktheater into its programme in 1988, followed by the SPIELART theatre festival in 1995 and the DANCE festival for contemporary dance in 1998. The award-winning Opera for all project was launched in 1997 in close cooperation with the Bavarian State Opera. In 2007, the format has also been established in Berlin under the name State Opera for all with the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. BMW has been the opera house's main global partner since 2018. BMW OPERA NEXT, the digital partnership with the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, is using the possibilities of digitalisation to make the world of opera more accessible to a younger audience. In 2012, BMW's Opera for all concept expanded internationally through a long-term partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra, creating the joint format BMW Classics. It was further expanded to Moscow in 2018, in cooperation with the State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia. In addition to this commitment, the BMW Group also collaborates with the Munich Philharmonic on the format Spielfeld Klassik.

In the field of jazz music, the BMW Group supports festivals and concerts in Brazil, China, Poland, Moldova and Germany. The prestigious BMW Welt Jazz Award and the BMW Welt Young Artist Jazz Award, established in 2016, round out this commitment.

The BMW employee initiatives Dixie Drivers, the BMW Male Voice Choir and the BMW Chamber Orchestra have showcased our employees’ musical involvement for decades.

Aerial view of “Opera for All”, sponsored by the BMW Group.

Opera for all.

The Opera for all format takes classical music and musical theatre out of the concert hall and onto the streets. The BMW Group collaborates with opera houses and orchestras to overcome reservations towards high culture. The format has its roots in Munich, where Opera for all is hosted jointly by the Bavarian State Opera, the BMW Munich dealership and the BMW Group in Munich. Since 1997, the BMW Group has provided access to opera and festival concerts during the exclusive opera festival. Opera performances are broadcasted directly via a 56m2  video screen at the Max-Joseph-Platz in front of the Nationaltheater. With this commitment, the Bavarian State Opera and BMW set cultural benchmarks.

Furthermore, the format has been successfully established in three other cities besides Munich: State Opera for all has been held on the Berlin Bebelplatz in conjunction with the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. In 2012, the format expanded to its first international location, with a free concert on London's Trafalgar Square in collaboration with the London Symphony Orchestra. London became the format's first international venue with BMW Classics. In 2018, BMW Opera for all, the Russian edition has been established in cooperation with the State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia in Moscow.

Even Plácido Domingo was enthusiastic: “Opera for all reaches an audience that would never have dreamed of going to the opera. A fantastic event for the audience and a strong affirmation of the social significance of what we are doing.” 

The German tenor Jonas Kaufmann is also excited: “The Opera for all format is truly one-of-a-kind: For me as an artist, sharing a unique evening at the opera with the largest possible audience out in the open in such an atmospheric setting is a special experience every time.”

Tens of thousands of people gather to experience these open-air events every year.  Spontaneity is the key: There is no need to buy tickets as the event is free of charge and the square open to everyone.

Close-up of two violinists in an orchestra.

Orchestra and opera cooperations.

BMW's involvement with orchestras and opera houses extends from Moscow to South Korea, including the State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia, the Teatro Alla Scala (Italy), the Orchestre de Paris and the Opéra National de Paris (France), the Guangzhou Opera (China), the Bozar Brussels (Belgium), the NHK Symphony Orchestra (Japan) and the Sugi Opera (South Korea). In Munich, BMW partners with the Bavarian State Opera as well as the Munich Philharmonic to offer the format Spielfeld Klassik. BMW has also supported the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern since February 2016.

Details on orchestra and opera cooperation can be found in the BMW Group Cultural Engagement brochure.
Snapshot of a performance at the BMW Jazz Festival.

Jazz projects and music festivals.

In the field of jazz, BMW is involved in many different areas worldwide. The BMW Jazz Club Poland, for example, has been supported by BMW Poland since 2006. In 2009, BMW successfully established an annual international competition, the BMW Welt Jazz Award.  With a different motto each year, the prize is awarded by a distinguished panel of expert judges from the world of jazz.

At six free concerts held on Tuesday evenings, the competing ensembles demonstrate their musical talent in front of the audience and judges. The finalists nominated then compete for the award in a final concert held in BMW Welt’s Auditorium. The audience is also invited to participate by choosing their favourite ensemble as the winner of the audience award. The BMW Welt Jazz Award is endowed with €15,000: €10,000 for the first and €5,000 for the second prize. The winner also receives a trophy specially designed for the competition by BMW Design. The BMW Welt Young Artist Jazz Award for aspiring talents, established in 2016, rounds out this commitment.

BMW also supports the Jazzclub Regensburg and the Leipziger Jazztage in Germany, as well as the International Music Festival Český Krumlov (Czech Republic), the Jazz & Classic Festival (Moldova), the JZ Shanghai Music Festival (China), the Festival de Mexico, the SoNoRo International Chamber Music Festival (Romania), the Steyr Music Festival (Austria), the Henley Festival (United Kingdom) and the Spoleto Festival (USA) on an international level.

More information on jazz projects and music festivals can be found in the BMW Group Cultural Engagement brochure.
Exhibits from the BMW Art Car Collection.

BMW Art Car Collection.

Since 1975, outstanding artists from around the world have designed BMW automobiles to represent their times. These cars all make very different artistic statements. The 19 exhibits created for the BMW Art Car Collection to date include works by well-known artists such as Alexander Calder, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, A.R. Penck, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Ólafur Elíasson and Jeff Koons. The 19th BMW Art Car created by John Baldessari for the Art Basel show in Miami Beach celebrated its world premiere in late 2016, before finishing eighth on the racetrack in the GTLM class at the 24 Hours of Daytona (USA) in early 201 7. In mid-2017, multimedia artist Cao Fei presented the 18th BMW Art Car in Beijing. Her “sculpture on wheels” also proved itself on the racetrack by finishing fourth at the FIA GT World Cup in Macau. BMW Art Cars reflect the cultural and historical development of art, design and technology, attracting interest at numerous museums and galleries throughout the world, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris (France), the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo (Japan), the Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw (Poland) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (USA), to name just a few.

It was French racing driver Hervé Poulain who first had the idea of allowing an artist free rein with an automobile. In the mid-1970s, Poulain commissioned American artist Alexander Calder to paint his BMW racing car. This was the initial spark that led BMW to establish the BMW Art Car Collection. In the early years of the project, racing cars were transformed into artistic objects – and some even started in the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race. The collection was later expanded to include production vehicles.

The first comprehensive publication on the BMW Art Cars published by Hatje Cantz in early 2014 traces the development of these “sculptures on wheels” since 1975. An expanded new edition, including the two most recent BMW Art Cars, was released in 2018.

BMW Art Guide
BMW Art Guide

BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors.

BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors, 2020

The fifth extended edition of the BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors provides an international overview of 270 publicly accessible private collections. Concise portraits of each collection, replete with colour illustrations, take the reader to 45 different countries and through areas sometimes quite off the beaten path. In addition to collections previously inaccessible to the general public, the extended edition now also includes sculpture parks and artists’ quarters in individual cities.

Collectors, gallerists, artists, and journalists assisted with the extensive research for this new standard work, released in English and German language by the art-book publisher Hatje Cantz. There is no comparable list of international private collections – some of which are opening their doors to art lovers and connoisseurs for the first time – online or in book form. 

The BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors is the first joint publication by BMW and Independent Collectors, a partnership that began in 2009.

Photographer stands on a rocky shore and looks out over the sea.

BMW Art Journey.

BMW Art Journey, 2019

BMW and Art Basel have promoted young international artists through the BMW Art Journey since 2015. Serving as a mobile studio, the BMW Art Journey enables selected artists to take a journey of creative discovery to a destination of their choosing – to conduct research, make contacts and create new works.

The BMW Art Journey is open to artists presented in Art Basel's “Discoveries” sector in Hong Kong and represented by exhibiting galleries founded no more than ten years ago. The jury of renowned international experts drafts a shortlist of three artists and invites them to submit proposals for a journey that would take their ideas and artistic practice to the next level. The jury then convenes again to select the winner from the three proposals submitted.

The members of the expert jury include Claire Hsu (Director Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong), Matthias Mühling (Director Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, Germany), Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (President Fondazione Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy), Philip Tinari (Director and CEO UCCA Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China) and Samson Young (artist and winner of the first BMW Art Journey).

The following artists have been recognised by the BMW Art Journey to date: Samson Young, Henning Fehr and Philipp Ruhr, Abigail Reynolds, Max Hooper Schneider, Astha Butail, Jamal Cyrus, Zac Langdon-Pole, Lu Yang and Leelee Chan.

World Premiere of BMW Open Work at Frieze London

BMW Open Work by Frieze.

BMW Open Work by Frieze is a major artistic initiative bringing together art, design and technology in pioneering multi-platform formats. The initiative, curated by Attilia Fattori Franchini, enables artists to push the boundaries of their artistic work, using technology and design to steer their art in innovative new directions.

Every year since 2017, BMW Open Work by Frieze invited an artist to create a visionary project inspired by technology, engineering prowess and BMW Design that explores current and future technologies as a vehicle for innovation and artistic experimentation. For the format's premiere, Olivia Erlanger integrated a motion-sensitive sculpture, audio effects and immersive fog into her work “Body Electric”. In 2018, Sam Lewitt engaged with BMW intellectual property and engine production to explore the production cycle of a BMW engine conceptually and physically in “CORE (the ‘Work’)”. The following year, taking advantage of the technical support and artisanship of BMW Individual, the artist Camille Blatrix dedicated himself to the topic of perfection and explored the seductive and fascinating attraction emanating from technology. His work “Sirens” raises questions about the source and origins of desire.

For the fourth edition of BMW Open Work by Frieze, Madeline Hollander presents the commission in two phases, as an interactive digital platform and livery intervention in 2020, and as live, site-specific installation in 2021. Titled “Sunrise/Sunset” her project continues the artist's research into traffic patterns and working without human actors to depict unseen systems or processes.

Visitors to an art fair.

Art fairs and biennales.

The BMW Group maintains long-term and sustainable partnerships with the most important and prestigious art fairs around the world. In doing so, BMW is by no means interested in mere logo placement. BMW also provides VIP shuttle services and, together with its partners, develops new formats that promote exchange of ideas and thoughts between art fairs and their visitors.

BMW supports the Art Basel shows in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong, as well as Frieze London, Frieze Masters, Frieze New York and Frieze Los Angeles. BMW Open Work by Frieze, a new format established in 2017, annually invites an artist to create a visionary project offering the public a comprehensive participatory experience. The artists chosen draw inspiration from BMW Design, technology and engineering prowess and explore current and future technologies as a vehicle for innovation and artistic experimentation.

In addition to that, the BMW Group also partners with Paris Photo (France), TEFAF Maastricht (the Netherlands), Art D'Egypte (Egypt) and the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (India), as well as the KYOTOGRAPHIE (Japan), the India Art Fair and Art Dubai (UAE).

Presentation of the National Gallery Prize.

Preis der Nationalgalerie.

The Preis der Nationalgalerie is facilitated by the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie. Made possible by civic commitment, it has established itself in recent years as the most significant national award for contemporary art. In addition, a public's choice award has been presented every two years. Since 2011 and in collaboration with the Deutsche Filmakademie, the Preis der Nationalgalerie has also been awarded for young cinematic art.

Presented every two years at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin the award focuses on young, significant artists of our time. Each of the two winners receives a carefully designed solo show in one of the two houses of the Nationalgalerie, including a special catalogue. International artists currently working in Germany below the age of 40 are eligible.

“The Preis der Nationalgalerie has established itself in recent years as the most significant national award for contemporary art. Even the list of artists who were nominated but did not receive the prize reads like a 'who's who' of the international art scene. We are delighted to have accompanied this development as a long-standing partner,” commented Maximilian Schoberl, Head of BMW Group Corporate and Governmental Affairs and Executive Vice President.

Architecture and design.

With the construction of the “Four-Cylinder”, BMW Group's headquarters, designed by Karl Schwanzer in 1973, the company placed a deliberate emphasis on dynamic design. Therefore, the company continued with trendsetting buildings such as the BMW plant in Leipzig by Zaha Hadid, BMW Welt in Munich by Coop Himmelb(I)au and the Rolls-Royce plant in Goodwood by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw.

The BMW Group can look back on more than one hundred years of design by people, for people. In 2006, the independent BMW Group subsidiary, Designworks USA, opened its third international design studio. Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President of BMW Group  Design since March 2009, and his team are working to implement a design philosophy for fascinating products with strong emotional appeal. The BMW Museum, which reopened in 2008, allows visitors to experience the synthesis of architecture and design up close: The exhibition centres around 125 original exhibits in 25 exhibition areas. A large number of international discussion forums and projects on the subject of design offer further opportunities for exchange between experts and interested members of the public.

Culture at the BMW Group.

A steady flow of information about cultural activities within the company allows employees to choose from a wide range of recreational options. Since 2013, the Sport- und Kultur-Förderverein BMW Group e.V., a sports and culture booster club, has also encouraged BMW Group employees and their families and friends to get involved in cultural activities. Long-standing formats include:


Kulturmobile is an intranet platform updated quarterly that informs employees in Munich about current BMW Group cultural activities. In addition to this event calendar, special events are also organised in conjunction with partner institutions.

Dixi Drivers.

The Dixi Drivers were founded in December 1983 as a BMW company band by clarinetist Werner Grün. The band plays straightforward Dixieland that appeals to everyone.

BMW Male Voice Choire.

Founded in 1979, this formally-trained ensemble has proved extremely popular. The choir is well-known and well liked, both locally and farther afield. Concert tours to affiliated choirs have brought popularity to the BMW Male Voice Choire even outside of Germany.