Featured image (dusk exterior) courtesy of Petersen Automotive Museum, all photography within story by @2015 Toni Avery
After over one year of construction and massive renovations, the old Petersen Museum is no more. Now, it is wrapped in red metal ribbons enveloping the once tired museum. While the exterior brings a whole new look to what is called Museum Row in Los Angeles, making it possibly the coolest design in the area, the inside is also drastically different. No more streetscapes with old run down shops and period correct cars. Now, it’s all perfectly polished floors, modern architecture and elaborate displays.
There aren’t any existing displays or even similar layouts to the old museum. Everything is fresh and new. Having been relatively the same for nearly twenty years, it was time for a complete refresh. And the final product couldn’t be more magnificent.
I spent about six hours wandering the museum during a press preview discovering completely new cars and other old favorites used in an entirely new setting. There is still the movie car section, but it now features a few new pieces including the Aston Martin DB10 from the recent James Bond film Spectre. But almost everything else is either entirely different or used in an entirely new way. This helps make the museum look and feel fresh even to someone who has gone many times over the years.
My new favorite exhibit is the Precious Metal exhibit. This collection houses a wonderful variety of silver painted classic, exotic and absolutely stunning cars. It’s the most drool worthy exhibit in my eyes.
I also appreciated the Motorsports exhibit, showcasing various very vintage to somewhat more modern race cars including a gorgeous Porsche 917.
There are a number of interactive exhibits including a simulator experience on numerous tracks around the world allowing you to pilot cars only obtainable in dreams. An incredibly brilliant exhibit is the new Cars (the movie) interactive center. It’s a wonderful place for kids of all ages to learn and visually see how various parts on a car work. Additionally, Art Center College of Design students will be able to take advantage of the museum’s gorgeous interior with a new clay modeling room and computer design room. These will be considered a satellite campus for students.
The only visibly obvious piece to stay the same through construction is the clear glass room on the roof that is now surrounded by red metal ribbon. There will of course be those that want the old museum back with the old exhibits and cars, but I see this as a huge step forward for California car culture. We started as the leaders of this ever-changing and evolving way of life and we need to continue to lead it. This complete overhaul is a great start.