Mr. Petersen had one major vision: to build an educational museum to honor the automobile. On June 11, 1994, the 300,000 square foot Petersen Automotive Museum opened.
The Petersen Automotive Museum anchors the Museum Mile district and serves as the western gateway to Museum Row.
The Petersen brand was established in 1994 and enjoyed a complete revitalization in 2015 - earning it the title of “The World’s Best Automotive Museum.”
If there is one thing that we all have in common, especially in Southern California, it’s the automobile. To some the automobile is an appliance, but to us it is a passion. The Petersen Automotive Museum has been celebrating this passion for eighteen years on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, the third most travelled intersection in the city of Los Angeles. It anchors one end of the famed "Miracle Mile" created by real estate developer A.W. Ross in 1936. Created in a time before shopping malls, the Miracle Mile centralized shopping in the area and was "The" place to go for high end shopping. Wilshire was also home to various "firsts" including dedicated left-turn lanes and the first timed traffic lights in the United States. Ross also required merchants to provide automobile parking lots behind their stores, all to aid traffic flow.
The unique feature that separates The Petersen Automotive Museum from other automotive museums is the rotating exhibit space. To keep the museum fresh, relevant, and to keep visitors coming back, it was decided from the beginning not to display the entire Museum Collection at once. In the 300,000 square feet that comprise The Petersen Automotive Museum, only about 150 vehicles are on display at any one time. The other half of the 350+ vehicle collection is in the Vault, presented by Hagerty, where visitors can take guided tours. For the benefit of museum guests, a diverse selection of exhibit themes are explored utilizing both the museum’s collection as well as vehicles on loan from other collections. This philosophy assures that there is always something new to see at the Petersen!
Over 250,000 images are currently available on our public database, in partnership with SEMA and Motor Trend.
The Petersen received 30 new donated vehicles, as well as hundreds of additional donations, in the form of print material and automotive artifacts.
The Petersen received the 2016 International Historic Motoring Award for Museum or Collection of the Year, voted upon by a distinguished panel of international judges.
On December 5, 2015, the Petersen reopened its doors!