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 car culture. A 2015 redesign has since turned the automotive history museum into more of a high-tech gallery, with about 150 cars on display. There's a glimpse into the rise of car culture in Southern California, but that mostly takes a backseat to a focus on the progress, dominance and dazzling good looks of the automobile.
The museum's narrative begins in the third floor gallery with a bit of automotive history; you'll find sections dedicated to Southern California road culture and Hollywood cars, from the Tim Burton era Batmobile to Walter White's Pontiac Aztek. Head down a level and you'll learn about the industrial design process from start to finish; an on-hand Art Center design studio makes the motif feel especially alive. The ground floor shows off the artistry of cars, with a showroom dedicated to sumptuously swooping vintage vehicles. Make no mistake, though: all of the floors are essentially about the art fo the automobile, just viewed through various lenses.
Technology, both automotive and interactive, runs through the museum's redesigned gallery spaces; most significantly, they've ditched wordy didactics in favor of tablets in many spots. You'll find Forza 6 driving simulation stations and a Cars-inspired discovery center on the second floor, complete with an augmented reality experience that takes visitors on a car-building scavenger hunt around the space. Though the museum has 96 tablets available for the Cars experience, we suggest reserving a time slot in advance.
|Venue name:||Petersen Automotive Museum||Contact:|
6060 Wilshire Blvd
|Opening hours:||Daily 10am-6pm|
|Price:||$15; seniors $12; students (with ID) $12; children $7; children under 3 free; active military (with ID) free; parking free for the first 30 minutes with validation, $12 flat rate after|
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Not only do I love the design of the revamped museum, but the car collection inside is pretty outstanding as well. There are a few missteps - I think they could have scaled down the exhibits on designing a car, and that whole Disney Cars section was a little weird - but overall it is quite well done. Unfortunately, there is a big push for visitors to Instagram their visit (photos are then displayed in the lobby), and so I saw quite a few people walking around, taking a picture (or 5) of a car, and then leaving without really looking at it. But such is life in 2016.