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Another Look Inside the Petersen Automotive Museum
Robert E. Petersen and the museum that bears his name
You may have seen several photos and videos from inside the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, but you might not know much about the guy who’s name is on it—Robert E. Petersen. “Pete,” as his friends and associates liked to call him (though those of us that worked for him used the more respectful Mr. Petersen), created Hot Rod and Motor Trend magazines in the late-’40s and expanded his publishing empire into a dominant force that eventually included hundreds of different titles. But his dream was always to create a museum that educated the public on the role that Southern California car culture had on the country and world in general. Mr. Petersen realized that dream when he opened the museum back in 1994, in an old department store on Wilshire Blvd, two blocks away from where our corporate headquarters were located and smack dab in the middle of Museum Row—the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the La Brea Tar Pits are on the same street.
While it was always a great museum and destination point for people around the world, after 20-plus years it was beginning to get a little stale, so the museum was closed last year for an intensive, 90 million dollar renovation. Inside and out, the Petersen is entirely new and quite a bit different than the previous layout, but Mr. Petersen’s signature is still heavy on the place.
In this video, longtime museum curator Leslie Kendall talks about the new digs, and Mr. Petersen’s history with automotive culture and the museum that was his dream.