Petersen Automotive Museum
The Petersen Automotive Museum has to be the greatest car museum in the world. Located smack dab in the middle of car-crazy Southern California and backed by a Billionaire Boys Club of board members, it has proven its leadership time and again, with a permanent collection of some 400 cars and rotating exhibits from all over the world.
So we can forgive an occasional air ball.
Consider the latest exhibit opening, “Cars of Film and Television.” The museum is located literally an Uber’s drive away from Paramount, Warner Bros., Universal, and Sony Pictures, and nearly as close to any number of semi-secret fenced-off parking lots hidden all over the city packed door-to-door with various movie cars. So access to icons is not the problem.
The Petersen has had such exhibits off and on for most of its 28 years, so it knows how to do these things. But this current collection of cars from both the big and small screen is really something of a letdown.
Four of the cars are good, if a little overexposed and maybe even cliched by now: a Batmobile from the Michael Keaton Batman era, a Delorean that functioned as the primary shooting car from all three Back to the Future films, a real Starsky and Hutch Torino from the original TV show, and the iconic Cadillac ambulance featured in the Ghostbusters sequels. Those are all cool.
But then the exhibit goes flat, like a blown retread. Consider these less-than-compelling entries:
- A 1948 Packard Station Sedan Woody from some TV series called “Lovecraft Country”
- An almost-stock-appearing 2018 Lexus LC 500 from “Black Panther”
- A hideous snorkel-nozzled “Maglev Pod” from the Tom Cruise SciFi vehicle “Minority Report”
- A block-like transport SUV from the Steven Spielberg gaming movie “Ready Player One”
- The gross-looking Boris Bike from “Men In Black 3”
- The Monocycle from “MIB3.” Well, okay, that one is kind of cool.
- Another gross-looking sci-fi bike, the Moto Terminator motorcycle from “Terminator Salvation”
- And a fairly bland-looking ’67 Impala used in the TV show “Supernatural”
In any other museum this would be fine, and probably a hit among attendees. But The Pete, as they want people to call it colloquially, has set a much higher standard, so we expect a lot more from them, especially with an exhibit pulled literally from its own backyard.
Okay, enough Petersen-bashing! There is still plenty of reason to go check out the rest of the museum, which includes:
- Another just-opened lowrider exhibit, with Gypsy Rose, CadZilla and a host of other cars made to go low ‘n’ slow
- The “Bond in Motion” exhibit, featuring famous movie rides from most of the 007 flicks
- Hypercars: The Allure of the Extreme, with everything from the McLaren Speedtail and Lamborghini Centenario to the Devel Sixteen and a Bugatti Veyron
- Pole Position, which is all real F1 cars from the private collection of Juan Gonzales
- And the now-self-guided Treasures of the Vault, wherein you can stroll through the museum’s once-dark-and-gloomy but now well-lit basement hideaway of over 100 cars, almost all of them cool.
The Petersen is at 6060 Wilshire Blvd. (at Fairfax) in the heart of Museum Row on Wilshire Blvd.’s Miracle Mile in Los Angeles. Admission is $17 and it’s open seven days a week from 10-5.
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