The Reopened Petersen Automotive Museum Is as Eye-Catching as the Cars Inside

After a $90 million renovation, the museum is a work of art, worthy of its 300-car collection…

California’s mecca of car culture is once again up and running as the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles reopened to the public on December 7 after a 14-month, $90 million renovation. Though the three-story repository debuted in 1994, the building was constructed in 1962 as a department store, and was ready for a makeover. Now one of the most visually striking structures in the city, the “hot-rod red” exterior is ensconced in 308 stainless-steel ribbons suspended across its surface—an architectural aesthetic suggestive of a vehicle in motion.

Inside, the 95,000-square-foot museum now features 25 new galleries spread over its three floors, with each level dedicated to either automobile history, industry, or artistry. The galleries comprise a rotating collection of 300 cars, motorcycles, and scooters, with 150 on display at any given time. In addition, 291 curated items (such as engines and scale models) and 52 pieces of related art are also showcased. Ubiquitous throughout are 47 Panasonic projectors, 35 interactive touchscreen displays, 25 monitors, and 100 tablets, for education and entertainment.

Some of the highlights housed within are a 1936 Type 57SC Bugatti Atlantic, James Bond’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5 from the film Goldfinger, the 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 Streamliner driven by renowned racers Juan-Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss, and the famed Ferrari from television’s Magnum P.I. There is even a section devoted to the Pixar film Cars that includes a life-size model of Lightning McQueen.

The cornucopia continues in the vault, where up to 150 contemporary and classic models are stored, about 40 of which are available for viewing on daily tours. Any with the urge to get behind the wheel can do so at the Driving Gallery’s 10 Microsoft Xbox Forza race simulators and three networked gaming stations. And those hungry for more will soon be able to satisfy their appetites at an on-site restaurant by the Drago brothers, opening in the spring of 2016. (petersen.org

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