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Petersen museum reveals new interior design and floor plan, additional details on 20th anniversary renovation


Petersen's visitors will start from third floor, finish in this new first-floor salon | Petersen museum illustrations
Petersen’s visitors will start from third floor, finish in this new first-floor salon | Petersen museum illustrations
Petersen's new exterior
Petersen’s new exterior

A year ago at Pebble Beach, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles announced plans for “a complete exterior transformation and a dynamic redesign of the interior,” the renovations to be done in conjunction with the facility’s 20th anniversary celebration. At the time, it also revealed architectural drawings of the new exterior facade and launched a capital campaign to pay for the changes.

Last weekend at Pebble Beach, the museum revealed sketches of the planned interior design, said it has raised $70 million of the $125 million it needs for the transformation, and announced that interior renovations will begin after the museum’s annual gala, which this year will be held October 18 and will feature a performance by The Beach Boys.

Once those interior renovations begin, only the museum’s Vault will remain open to visitors until the museum’s grand reopening in the fall of 2015. However, until the reopening, many of the museum’s most popular and important cars will be on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Details of that display will be announced soon.

“We sought out the finest minds in museums, entertainment, education, architecture and design to create an immersive experience that blends art and science in a way that will equally appeal to those who love the automobile and visitors looking to learn something new,” said Peter Mullin, chairman of the museum’s board.

“We have made significant headway in our capital campaign and construction is underway,” he said, adding that, “the New Petersen… will be a global museum standard-bearer the people of Los Angeles will be proud to call their own.”

The redesigned interior will include 22 new galleries spanning all three floors of the building. The museum’s news release said those galleries will include “interactive children’s displays, exhibits dedicated to art and design, media and industry, motorsports and technology and the unique role motorized transportation had in the development of Los Angeles.”

Unlike the museum’s current layout, after renovations are completed visitors will begin their exploration on the third floor, which will be dedicated to the history of the automobile, both in Southern California and around the world, including an examination of Hollywood’s love affair with cars.

Second floor exhibits will focus on the auto industry and explore motorsports, customization, manufacturing and alternate-fuel technologies. The second floor also will house a satellite design studio for the Art Center College of Design, the world’s premier automotive design school based in Pasadena.

The revised ground floor will feature the art of the automobile, with a large main salon showcasing beautiful and historic automobiles and contemporary art.

The museum also announced that it has added nine vehicles to its collection, including a 1900 Smith, a car produced in Los Angeles from 1900-1907 by brothers Alonzo and R. Stanley Smith. It said it will add other vehicles as it prepares for its grand reopening in 2015.


Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
  1. Wonder how many of the old hot rods and other donated cars will remain when all this is finished. Hope we stick with Americana and not to glitzy…time wil tell

  2. Surely that is not the paint scheme on the exterior. Without question the worst looking paint scheme ever, If the art school in Pasadena did this and are responsible for the Modern day box cars we have. They need to go back to the Fifty’s and Sixty’s, when a car had style and was appealing to look at.

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