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Ikko Tanaka, Poster for the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, 1968, © Comité International Olympique (CIO) / DONATSCH, Jürg. Photo: The New Collection (Kai Mewes)

On April 26, 1966, the International Olympic Committee chose the Bavarian capital of Munich as the venue for the 1972 Summer Olympics. On Oberwiesenfeld, four kilometres from the city centre, the Olympic sports facilities were built with a bold tent roof construction and the neighbouring Olympic Village. The Olympic Park together with the Olympic Stadium by Benisch & Partner with its tent roof by Frei Otto have long been among the world-famous landmarks of the Bavarian capital. In addition, the 1972 Games were made famous by Otl Aicher’s cheerful and colourful design. The Architecture Museum of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum have taken the 50th anniversary of the Munich Summer Olympics as an opportunity to examine the planning of the Olympic Park, on the one hand, and the Olympics as “motor and target of innovations” in design, on the other hand, in extensive exhibitions.

Since the beginning of the 1960s, Munich has been in the process of redevelopment. With the awarding of the Olympics to Munich, urban development received a further boost. Unlike the 1936 games in Berlin, which were misused for propaganda purposes, Munich ’72 was to go down in history as the “cheerful games”. However, the September 5 assassination attempt, which ended with the death of all Israeli hostages, cast a dark shadow over the Games. In terms of architecture, the Olympic facilities designed by Behnisch & Partner, Frei Otto, Günther Grzimek and Heinle Wischer und Partner won international acclaim; Otl Aicher’s visual image also set new standards.

By means of unknown documents and models, the large-scale exhibition “The Olympic City of Munich” of the TUM Architecture Museum spans a broad thematic arc from the reconstruction of the city to the “Olympics in the Green” with the world-famous tent roof, the sports venues and the Olympic Village as well as the visual appearance to the Olympic legacy until January 8, 2023. The presentation focuses on questions of self-portrayal, sustainability and the understanding of democracy. Until October 3, the show “Design for the Olympics” in the Neue Sammlung focuses on the wealth of ideas and innovative spirit in design for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is devoted to sports equipment and the outfitting of athletes – from boxing gloves for the Paris Games in 1924 to mountain bikes for the Tokyo Games in 2020/21 – as well as to the visual design and interior decoration of the Games. A special highlight is the complete series of historical pictograms from the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964. Since the Olympic Games “despite their original idea as ambassadors of peaceful, non-political international understanding often became a vehicle for political and social statements,” the exhibition aims to “depict the manifold interconnections between design and the Olympics. A bilingual catalogue accompanies the exhibition scientifically and lets contemporary witnesses on design development, photography and competitive sports have their say.

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