Petersen Automotive Museum

Jump to: navigation, search
Petersen Automotive Museum
Established 1994
Location 6060 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California
United States
Coordinates 34°03′45″N 118°21′40″W / 34.062472°N 118.361034°W / 34.062472; -118.361034
Type Automotive museum
Director Terry L. Karges
Curator Leslie Kendall

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. Previously located within the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the museum is permanently housed in an historic department store designed by Welton Becket. The building opened in 1962 as a short-lived U.S. branch of Seibu Department Stores, before operating as an Ohrbach's department store from 1965–1986. Six years after Ohrbach's closed, Robert Petersen selected the largely windowless site as an ideal space for a museum, where artifacts could be displayed without harmful exposure to the ultraviolet radiation of direct sunlight.


The museum has about 150 vehicles on display in its main galleries. The remaining half of the collection is kept in a "vault", located on the basement level of the building. Age restrictions and an admission premium are in effect to view the vault collection. The ground floor displays a virtual history of the automobile in Los Angeles, complete with vintage vehicles and buildings. The second floor houses both permanent and special exhibits. The third floor features the May Family Children's Discovery Center — an interactive exhibit where children can learn science through the workings of a car. The fourth floor houses an all-glass penthouse conference center, Founder's Lounge, and kitchen for corporate and private use. The rooftop conference center was originally built by Seibu as a restaurant surrounded by a reflecting pool.

Some of the cars and automotive memorabilia in the Petersen collection include:


The museum received a $100-million gift from Margie Petersen and the Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation in April 2011, which includes cash and the property the museum was leasing, as well as many of the vehicles belonging to the Petersens.

Museum in popular culture

On March 9, 1997, after a party at the museum, The Notorious B.I.G. got into an SUV with his entourage and drove fifty yards to a red light where he was murdered by an unknown assailant.

Orbach's department store is featured in a lengthy sequence in the 1988 film Miracle Mile.

The museum is destroyed in the 1997 film, Volcano.

In a scene from Who Killed the Electric Car? a previous General Motors EV1 owner visits their car in the museum.

One of the cars from 2 Fast 2 Furious, a pink Honda S2000 used in the film, is currently in the museum's collection.


  1. Allen, Chester (October 2012). "Inside Line". Sports Car Market 24 (10): 16. 
  2. (website) "The Vault". Petersen Automotive Museum. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  3. Vaughn, Mark (April 26, 2011). "Petersen museum gets $100 million gift from founders". AutoWeek. 

External links

  • "1897 Anthony Electric Runabout". TROMBINOSCAR (in French). Retrieved 12 November 2012. 

Coordinates: 34°03′45″N 118°21′40″W / 34.062472°N 118.361034°W / 34.062472; -118.361034

You may also be interested in:

Spanish flu
Carolyn Cassady
Nigel Cross
Masanori Sekiya
Zsazsa Zaturnnah
Backwell School
Beta scission
2006 Memorial Cup
Torneo de Apertura de Chile 2009
Contact     Terms of Use     Privacy Policy
All Rights Reserved 2012-2014