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The Petersen Automotive Museum was initially established in 1994 by world-renowned magazine publisher Robert E. Petersen, along with his wife, Margie. The Petersen Automotive Museum is now owned and operated by the Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation. Robert Petersen turned his lifelong fascination with cars into a great legacy. 

Originally located within the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Mr. Petersen decided to move it into an old historic department store designed by architect Welton Becket. He chose this building because it was mostly windowless, perfect for museum-type artifacts that must be protected from sunlight. 

Flash forward to 2015 — the museum underwent major cosmetic surgery to the tune of $125 million. The exterior facade was completely redesigned, and a stainless steel ribbon was constructed of 100 tons of 14-gage steel in 308 sections, 25 supports, and 140,000 custom stainless steel screws. 

The inside had configured spaces to accommodate ever-changing exhibits. If you are fascinated with the stories they have to tell, then this is your dream come true. The Petersen Automotive Museum has over 100 special vehicles, as well as one or two of a kind vehicles on display at any given time. The museum also created a vault in the basement of the building for those extra special extravagant vehicles. An important mention: there are age restrictions for entering the vault. 

Here are some car celebrities at the Petersen Automotive Museum:

  • Lighting McQueen from Disney Pixar “Cars” and “Cars 2”
  • 1956 Jaguar XKSS, formerly owned by Steven McQueen
  • The DeLorean time machine from “Back to the Future”
  • De Tomaso Pantera belonged to Elvis Presley
  • The NASCAR Herbie used during the filming of “Herbie: Fully Loaded” 
  • Porsche Carrera GT original concept housed at the museum

The list above is extremely abbreviated; remember the museum houses over 100 cars and temporary exhibits that come and go. 

Although temporarily closed because of COVID, the Petersen Automotive Museum is definitely a place worth visiting. It is located at 6060 Wilshire Blvd along the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles. 

Seeing these cars and knowing their stories is akin to meeting your favorite celebrity figure.

Every car enthusiast can come and ogle the car of their dreams at the museum and live out their fantasies.


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From the Design Studio 

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting