Instead of a car belonging in a museum, it is the museum that will fit inside a car. The Petersen Automotive Museum of Los Angeles is getting a complete makeover both inside and out. The redesign, by the architectural firm of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), is to be finished in time for the 20th anniversary in 2014.
The exterior is shaped like a traditional, four-door car. The red building will be covered with stainless steel ribbons to give the illusion of speed. LED lights from within the steel structure will capture the color and shape of the original building. These exterior renovations will be possible without any major changes to the current structure.
The interior, however, is getting additional display space of 15,000 square feet. This will include digitally-enhanced learning stations that tell the stories of people and their cars throughout the 20th century. The restored permanent collection will be upgraded to include automobiles of historical significance, famous race cars, hot rods, cars of Hollywood film, cars designed to run on alternative fuel and those built in Los Angeles.
The real reason for the complete makeover is, ultimately, so visitors will come back. Petersen’s Chairman of the Board, Peter Mullin, wants the museum to reflect the finest in architectural design, history of automobiles and interactive displays so that people can fully experience the best vehicles of all time. He feels the redesign will encourage visitors to make return visits.
The architect wants that, too. KPF is internationally known and has at least 70 projects divided among 35 countries. Zahner, the metal company that will be working with KPF, also has an international reputation and many of their clients have been museums.
It isn’t every museum that can change its shape to match its subject matter, but the Petersen Automotive Museum is doing that. In 2014, just look for the giant car.
Written by: Cynthia Collins, Senior Museum Correspondent