If you’re a car enthusiast, The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles belongs on your to do list next time you’re in SoCal. The building itself is worth a drive by just to see the new architecture. The museum has recently been completely renovated, and the new digs make it even more appealing than before.
My husband Troy is a born and bred LA boy and a diehard gear head, so I’m surprised to say we’ve missed this museum on our last several trips south. So Petersen Automotive is going back on the bucket list.
The Petersen Automotive Museum is an orgy of autos in a 100,000-square-foot venue, featuring historic car exhibits meant to show us how the automobile has influenced American culture. The museum has more than 300 vehicles in storage and also showcases cars on loan from others. But you’ll never see them all in once visit. The museum only feature 150 vehicles at a time in special themed exhibitions. Their major exhibits change every three to twelve months, swapping out smaller exhibits and individual cars more often.
What to See at Petersen Automotive Museum
Every time we go we see something new, from single eye-candy cars, to amazing automobile collections. Troy loves looking at the rare car parts and motorcycle section, while I favor the photos, artwork, and books. The exhibits are well-designed dioramas, thoughtfully presented, and pare cars with artwork and other pertinent paraphernalia of the day. The new space is still three stories of exhibits, with a fourth floor available for special events.
On the first floor, they run videos on a huge LCD screen, along with ever changing automobile exhibits. The second floor exhibits include an XBOX video game to give you that behind-the-wheel race car experience. Ten racing simulators offer a custom version of Forza Motorsport 6. And kids can make like Lightning McQueen in the a Pixar area and enjoy other interactive exhibits.
The 3rd floor houses cars from movies and television, like the car from Back to the Future, the BatMobile and a James Bond cars. You’ll also see a Ford Model T, which is the only car you can actually sit in.
Throughout the museum, you’ll see some of your faves and a few you may not have seen in a while, like the 1993 Jaguar XJ220, 1964 Porsche 901, 1933 Deusenberg Model SJ, 1939 Bugatti Type 57C Atalante, 1982 Ferrari 308GTSi, 1991 Bentley Turbo R Sedan, 1953 Nash Healey, 1952 Hudson Wasp, and the ever nostalgic 1946 Ford “Grease Lightning.”
What’s Happening on LA’s Museum Row
Petersen Automotive Museum’s new modern architecture, as of 2016, is the first of several changes that will take place in this part of the city. As the “western gateway to Museum Row” in LA, the Petersen is the first of many structures destined for a redo. Plans for nearby makeovers include the Academy of Motion Pictures Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and a subway station next door. If you haven’t been lately, this museum is worth a look.
Know Before You Go
- Tickets: Petersen Automotive Museum: Buy at the door or online here on the museum website. They show discounts for child/student/seniors and also offer a group rate for 10 or more.
- Coupon: Sometimes available in local papers. I will post info here as they turn up.
- Hours: Open daily from 10am – 6pm (closed only on Christmas Day).
- Address: Petersen Automotive Museum, 6060 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036.
- Getting there: The museum is a mile north of the 10 Freeway’s Fairfax exit).
- Parking: The entrance to the parking lot is located on Fairfax, south of Wilshire Blvd. You can park free for the first half hour, then the rate is a flat $12. Note: The only way the museum will validate your parking is if you buy something in the museum store over $100.
- Accessibility: You’ll find a ramp and elevators, plus the museum has a wheelchair available.
- Hotels Nearby: Find reviews and book a hotel near Petersen Automotive Museum.