Wednesday, Nov 13 2013 06:00 AM

Journey: Explore the history and culture of the automobile

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Many of the Petersen's 300-car collection are displayed in a cityscape setting with rotating themes to keep the experience fresh for returning guests. Photo courtesy of Petersen Automotive Museum

The Petersen Automotive Museum is home to over 300 historic automobiles, trucks and motorcycles, including a large collection of Hollywood's famous movie and television vehicles, like this 1949 Jaguar from the movie "Gangster Squad." Photo courtesy of Petersen Automotive Museum

Locate on Wilshire Boulevard, the Petersen Automotive Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the American automobile culture. Photo courtesy of Petersen Automotive Museum

Nestled in the heart of the Los Angeles Museum District, on Wilshire Blvd., the Petersen Automotive Museum allows guests to explore the automobile, and its impact on American life and culture. The museum's four-story building encompasses over 300,000 square feet of exhibition space, filled with some of the rarest cars, trucks and motorcycles in the world.

One of the things that sets the Petersen museum apart from other car museums is the style in which they exhibit their collections. Instead of displaying rows of exotic vehicles, visitors are invited to stroll through a large street-scape dioramas, giving context to the exhibits, and emphasizing the affect the automobile has has had on American culture. These themed exhibits change periodically, to allow the museum to rotate its collection of oner 300 historic vehicles on and off display, and assure that its exhibits remain fresh for return visits. For an additional fee, gusts can take a guided tour of the museum's vault, and see its entire collection.

The museum's newest exhibit, The Art of Utility, focuses on pickup trucks and shows their evolution from functional workhorse to high-profile personal expression. The exhibit, scheduled to run through April of 2014, features such iconic as a 1909 International Harvester, 1953 Dodge Swivel Frame, 1958 Ford Ranchero and a number of other vintage and modern vehicles.

The museum first two floors house its rotating exhibits, as well as several permanent exhibitions, including a gallery of famous cars from movies and television, a collection of hundreds of Hot Wheels toy cars, and an exhibit named Alternative Power, featuring past, present and future alternatives to there traditional internal combustion engine.

The third floor houses the museum's discovery center, a 6,500 square-foot hands-on learning center designed to teach children the science of the automobile.

The Petersen Automotive Museum opened in 1994, the brainchild of publisher Robert E. Petersen, who felt the large building, perfect as a museum.

Admission is $15 for adults, and $5 for children under 12, and discounted admission for seniors, students and active-duty military is available. The museum is closed Mondays, except holidays, but is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information, visit the Petersen Automotive Museum's website at

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