It’s no coincidence that the Petersen has won numerous awards for being the best car museum in the world; you don’t have to be a pistonhead to enjoy one of the best museums in LA.
Situated on Museum Row in the Miracle Mile area, the Petersen Automotive Museum brazenly announces itself to visitors and passersby alike. Designed by KPF, the exterior facade features huge undulating ribbons of stainless steel with a signature, hot-rod-red backdrop. Inspired by the culture and heritage of the automobile, the design evokes visions of speed and movement creating another of LA’s unforgettable structures. It’s for this reason that it was also named among the best new buildings designed by American architects in 2017.
Inside the museum the exhibits are curated into a carefully choreographed journey from the top down, beginning with a lesson in the history of the car and how LA was built around it. Next is the famous cars of film and television, including the DeLorean from Back to the Future, Herbie the Love Bug and the Batmobile, before a meander downwards leads to an exploration of the design, technology and artistry of the automobile alongside temporary exhibitions which in the past have included a history of Ferrari, Bugatti and Porsche design.
However, the best part of the museum is tucked away in the basement, also known as ‘The Vault’. Down there the museum offers a guided tour of over 250 of the most iconic and rare vehicles, including my personal favourite: the Round Door Rolls, a 1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom rebodied by the Jonckheere Carrossiers of Belgium.
Like the UN Studio designed Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart, this car museum has the architecture to befit the artistry within.