Petersen Automotive Museum
Car lovers will not want to miss the incredible assortment of vehicles at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Spread over four floors are a mix of permanent and temporary exhibits featuring more than 300 cars and motorcycles, ranging from perfectly preserved items from 1886 right through to concepts for the 21st century. The museum underwent major renovations and is now one of the most modern institutions of its kind. The exterior façade is an eye-catching architectural masterpiece. For an additional fee, you can sign up for either a 90- or 120-minute guided Vault tour, which provides additional insight on rare and unusual cars. The museum is also host to a regular series of special exhibits featuring new, old, and unusual cars from the past along with ones you might see in the future. Check their website for the latest information. The Petersen Automotive Museum is located on Wilshire Boulevard along Museum Row in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles. One of the world’s largest automotive museums, the Petersen Automotive Museum is a nonprofit organization specializing in automobile history and related educational programs.
Founded on June 11, 1994, by magazine publisher Robert E. Petersen and his wife Margie, the $40-million Petersen Automotive Museum is owned and operated by the Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation. The museum was originally located within the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and later moved to a historic department store designed by Welton Becket. Opened in 1962, the building first served as a short-lived U.S. branch of Seibu Department Stores, before operating as an Ohrbach’s department store from 1965 to 1986. Six years after Ohrbach’s closed, Robert Petersen selected the largely windowless site as an ideal space for a museum—allowing artifacts to be displayed without harmful exposure to direct sunlight. In 2015, the museum underwent an extensive $125 million renovation. The building’s façade was redesigned by the architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, and features a stainless-steel ribbon assembly made of 100 tons of 14-gauge type 304 steel in 308 sections, 25 supports and 140,000 custom stainless-steel screws. Designers at The Scenic Route configured interior spaces to accommodate changing exhibits. The remodeled museum opened to the public on December 7, 2015.
The museum has over 100 vehicles on display in its 25 galleries. The remaining half is kept in a vault on the building’s basement level. Age restrictions and an admission premium are in effect to view the vault collection. The ground floor focuses on automotive artistry, showcasing an array of extravagant automobiles. The second floor is principally concerned with industrial engineering—including design, performance, and a collection of interactive teaching exhibits. Special displays on the industry floor cover racing, motorcycles, hot rods and customs. The third floor chronicles the history of the automobile, with an emphasis on the car culture of Southern California.