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Petersen Automotive Museum

1/3
Photograph: Courtesy Petersen Automotive Museum
Petersen Automotive Museum
2/3
Photograph: Courtesy Petersen Automotive Museum
Petersen Automotive Museum
3/3
Photograph: Courtesy Petersen Automotive Museum
Petersen Automotive Museum
Los Angeles

Miracle Mile was the first commercial development in LA designed expressly for the benefit of drivers, and so a former department store makes an apt home for this museum of automobile culture. The story of how LA—and much of the west coast—was built around the needs of drivers is a fascinating and instructive tale. Unfortunately, the Petersen Museum doesn't tell it in any great detail, preferring instead to dazzle visitors with an admittedly impressive collection of autos from the last century.

Some of the vehicles wear their history with pride: a maroon 1942 Lincoln Continental, a delivery truck from Culver City's iconic Helms Bakery, even an old Vincent motorcycle. Others look ahead: Batmobiles from both the original TV series and the Tim Burton movies, a taxi designed by Syd Mead for Blade Runner. While the life-size dioramas of garages and diners evoke the early days of the US car obsession, the museum misses its chance to tell a story that really warrants telling. But the cars are lovely, and the themed temporary exhibitions are often a treat.

Venue name: Petersen Automotive Museum
Address: 6060 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles

Venue phone: 323-930-2277
Website: http://www.petersen.org
Opening hours: Tues-Sun 10am-6pm
Price: $12; seniors (62+) $8; students (with ID) $5; children (5-12) $3; children (under 5) free; active military (with ID) free
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