Day at the Museum: Petersen Automotive Museum

Clean California Cars

When: open 10 am to 6 pm every day (hours subject to change for holidays).

Where: 6060 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036


Contact[email protected] or (323) 930-2277

Not to Miss: The rare & rather dapper Porsche 356 Continental, and Magnum P.I.’s Ferrari 308 GTSi.

1953 Delahaye Type 178 at sunset over the L.A. skyline.

Image Source: 1953 Delahaye Type 178 (

A Day at The Petersen

Since 1994, all 100,000 square feet of the Petersen Automotive Museum have occupied the well-travelled corner of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles’ famous “Miracle Mile” of shops and museums with distinguished architecture.  The brainchild of the late Robert E. Petersen who made his fortune as a publishing such magazines as Rod & Custom and Motor Trend, the museum focuses on sharing his passion for the automobile and exploring its impact on American culture.

Petersen recently redid their look, giving the museum the facade of a 50s hot rod with candy red paint back-lighting a series of curvaceous chrome ribbons that pinstripe the building.  The exterior design isn’t the most of the museum’s architectural appeal, either; each room is purpose built for display, including the “Streetscape,” an immersive experience with vintage autos displayed around period-correct storefronts and gas pumps.

The new red and silver façade of the Petersen Automotive Museum.

Image Source: Petersen Museum Exterior (

Keeping it Fresh

With a story as long and branching as that of the automobile, one might wonder how Petersen manages to cover over a century of transportation, motorsport, and styling cues. But manage they do, with everything from McLarens and Maseratis to microcars and motorbikes in a constantly rotating inventory of over 300 historic vehicles, and hundreds more on loan for specific exhibitions.  Instead of just lining up the same cars in the same place every day, Petersen focuses on an exhibition-centric layout, insightfully grouping cars together around the museum to highlight their industrial, historical, and artistic import.

Silver Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Racecar convertible

Image Source: Racing Chevrolet Stingray (

Something for Everyone

Current exhibitions include a display dedicated to the art-deco “rolling sculptures” of the 1920s, a look at James Bond’s Aston Martins, including an original DB5, and a collection of the finest cars ever to bear a silver livery, to name just a few.  In addition, an in-depth look at the the movie Cars and its real-life counterparts offers a kid-friendly introduction to the world of automobiles and the machinery under the hood.

So next time you’re in California, make sure to allot a day (or two) to this true enthusiast’s dream that promises a new look at the familiar classics and a peak into some of the more mysterious corners of the automotive world.  And should a glimpse of an audacious Aerolithe or sumptuous Stingray wet your appetite, Premier would be happy to sate your hunger with a Simple Lease.

The Petersen exhibit that showcases beautifully liveried BMWs

Image Source: BMW Art Exhibition (