Museum hours: Closed For Renovations

The Petersen Sets The Record Straight

The Petersen Sets The Record Straight

July 20, 2013
by Petersen



This week the Los Angeles Times ran two articles about The Petersen Automotive Museum’s de-accession of some cars from its collection, incorrectly stating that the museum has new leadership and misleading readers into thinking we are changing course from our original mission. These stories are based on supposition and disinformation from two former employees - one of whom was an intern many years ago -and are totally inaccurate. We feel it is critical to reach out to you – our visitors, fans and the residents of Los Angeles – in order to clarify the current situation and get out the real story on our plans for the museum’s redesign, the evolving state of the collection and our plans to cement the Petersen’s position as one of the world’s preeminent automotive museums.

We believe these articles are a direct misrepresentation of our intentions for the museum. To be clear, we will not detour from our mission statement as laid out by Robert Petersen.  Our staff has followed very specific guidelines and protocols when deciding how the collection evolves. There has never been any intention to refocus the museum solely on French cars and motorcycles as depicted in the story. Please note the following key points:

Long Term Board Members:

•The leadership in place at the Petersen is deeply familiar with our founder’s goals and vision. The current Chairman of the board (Peter Mullin) has previously served as Chairman. The Co-Vice Chairman (Bruce Meyer) has also served as Chairman of the board for 10 years. David Sydorick, Co-Vice Chairman has also been on the board since the museum’s inception in 1994. We were all personal friends of Robert and Margie Petersen, and also helped lay out the original concept for the museum with the Natural History Museum.

Expanding our Mission:

• The Petersen is expanding on its mission to showcase both Southern California car culture and the finest vehicles from around the world. Southern California car culture will not be abandoned. Hot Rods and race cars will always be a part of our museum, as will exotics, art deco automobiles and vehicles with Hollywood provenance. We will concentrate on the best, most interesting and most beautiful cars from around the world, and tell the story of Southern California and the automobile. This mission also includes expanding and restoring our collection of vehicles that were built here.

Culling our Collection:

• The collection has now reached over 400 pieces. Not only are we unable to showcase all of the vehicles, but maintaining and keeping that many cars in running order is virtually impossible. We are culling the collection for the first time in nearly 20 years, selling cars that can easily be procured on loan or vehicles that were never intended for exhibition. Just to be clear, the “crown jewels” of the collection are not being sold, only vehicles that we have in multiples or are not in show-worthy condition. The Petersen will continue to have one of the greatest collections of hot rods in the world (including nine America’s Most Beautiful Roadster winners) as well as rare and unique pieces from turn-of-the-century horseless carriages to modern supercars.

Updating our Museum:

• Our plans do include transforming The Petersen—starting with improving the interior that has not changed significantly in 20 years. This building was originally a department store, not a museum and it is time to update the displays and galleries to provide visitors an immersive museum experience. The exhibitions and programs you know and love will continue, but our plan is to take advantage of new technology to provide a more interactive experience for our visitors.

• The focus will remain on cars and car culture, and our award-winning team of curators and designers will continue to offer a constantly revolving selection of special programs and exhibits. The planned changes will allow us to offer even more – expositions, lecture series from automotive luminaries, digital driving experiences, galleries that focus on cars as art and programs that showcase Los Angeles as the epicenter of automotive culture in America.

• We will unveil our vision for the exterior redesign of the museum on August 18th, and we are very proud that world-renowned architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) is working on the project. An example of an early design sketch is shown above. While KPF has provided a variety of renderings for consideration, the final concepts will not be chosen or revealed until August.

• The Board of Directors would also like to officially state that no funds from the sale of collection vehicles will be used for exterior renovations of the museum. Those funds will be used to grow and restore the collection and to enhance the interior displays, galleries and make other improvements. The rebirth of the Petersen from the inside out is a major project that will revitalize both the museum and the Miracle Mile. As such the Petersen Board has already initiated a capital campaign to fund the exterior renovation. More details on this campaign will be released August 18th.

We will host a discussion about our goals for the museum on August 18th at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where we will highlight our plans for The Petersen Automotive Museum and the improvements we hope to make. For those that cannot attend, we will provide a detailed recap of that announcement immediately thereafter on this website and through several media outlets. We speak for the entire Board of Directors when we say that as long-time leaders of this exceptional museum, as friends of the late Robert and Margie Petersen and as lifelong “car guys,” we take our responsibilities very seriously. The Petersen will continue to reflect and showcase our city’s car culture, while the pending changes will transform the museum into a first class destination for people around the world. This is an exciting time; we welcome your questions and appreciate your support.


Peter Mullin – Chairman     Bruce Meyer – Co-Vice Chairman