The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles is one of the largest museums in the world dedicated to  chronicling the evolution of the car and exploring our love affair with them.  The museum was founded by Robert E. and Margie Petersen in 1994, and was originally located within the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.  It is now in its own permanent location along museum row in the Miracle Mile neighborhood.

The Beach Boys' Little Deuce Coupe at Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles

You’ll find over 100 vehicles on display, covering topics that include the history of the automobile and its impact on popular culture globally as well as on Los Angeles.

Here’s a little bit about what you’ll find at at the museum:

  • The first floor is an interactive presentation of the history of the car and its impact and influence on our popular culture.
  • The second floor has permanent and rotating exhibits with lots of classic cars, along with specialized cars like race cars, and cars from the movies and television.
  • On the third floor is the May Family Children’s Discovery Center, giving kids an opportunity to learn about the science of the automobile through hands-on exhibits.
  • On the fourth floor is the all-glass penthouse that can be used as a conference center or for private parties.

Current exhibits include:

  • Sounds of Speed highlights the relationship of car culture and music, and how that relationship has been developed over the decades.  There are over 180 car-themed vinyl albums on display, and you can take a little trip down memory lane as you recollect some of these car tunes.  The exhibit runs through April 25th, 2010.
  • What Were They Thinking shows how innovative, out-of-the-box thinking has overcome the challenges of car design and engineering, shaping what we drive.  Sure, there were a few misses among the bunch, but there are also plenty of bold concepts that have made the car important to us.  The exhibit runs through July 5th, 2010.

And an upcoming exhibit:

  • Fantasies in Fiberglass explores the iconic fiberglass cars, both custom and production, of the past 50 years.  From Corvette to Dune Buggies, they’ll be on display demonstrating the contrast between metal and fiberglass in shaping our vehicles.  The exhibit opens February 27th, and will run through October 3rd, 2010.

Location: 6060 Wilshire Boulevard (at Fairfax) in Los Angeles (map).

Hours:  The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 6 pm, and is closed on Mondays except for major holidays.

Tickets:  $10 for adults, $5 for seniors (62+), students and active military, $3 for children (5-12), and free for children under 5.   Print your tickets at home and save $1 per person.

Parking: $2 for 30 minutes, with a maximum of $8 (with paid admission).

Photo credit:  Eric Kilby @flickr