Petersen Automotive Museum’s New Concept Revealed

Plans are unveiled for a sculptured metal exterior and cutting-edge interior with interactive displays, highlighting Southern California’s rich automotive heritage.

Image courtesy of the Petersen Automotive Museum Stainless steel ribbons will float over the bold red building, evoking imagery of speed and the organic curves of a coach-built automobile.

Believe it or not, it is possible for an automotive museum to actually look like a car, without being too obvious or tacky. As a matter of fact, the Petersen Automotive Museum's new plans, revealed recently at the Concours D’Elegance classic car show up in Pebble Beach, is actually breathtakingly original and fabulously cool.

It will bring welcome architectural relief to Museum Row, on corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, where the Petersen collection is currently housed in a drab, blocky building that was formerly an Ohrbach’s department store.

And they won’t even have to demolish the building! The exterior design, conceived by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, calls for ribbons of stainless steel wrapping around three sides and over the top of the deep red building. At night, the color and forms will be lit from within to accentuate the steel sculpture and act as a beacon in the neighborhood known as The Miracle Mile.

“As we approach the Petersen Automotive Museum’s 20th anniversary, our goal is to design and build an exterior as stunning as the vehicles and displays housed inside,” said Peter Mullin, the Petersen’s Chairman of the Board.

The transformation will extend to the museum’s interior as well, with a proposed additional 15,000 square feet of display space. Redesigned galleries will feature state-of-the-art lighting, digital displays and immersive learning stations that will tell the stories of the people and machines that changed the world over the past century.

Of course you'll also be able to see the restored and upgraded permanent collection that includes historically significant American and European classics, hot rods, groundbreaking race cars, the latest in alternative fuel technology, cars with Hollywood heritage and even vehicles designed and built right here in L.A.

The Los Angeles Times reports that as much as $20 million will be spent on the non-profit’s renovations. Proceeds from car sales will cover improvements and additions to the museum’s collection, while a fundraising campaign to cover the exterior improvements is about to begin.

“Our plan is to work with the best and brightest minds in architecture, automotive history and interactive design to give the people of Los Angeles and the world a place where they can be immersed in the culture, sights and sounds of the greatest vehicles ever built,” concluded Mullin.

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