Petersen Museum

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Almost 20 years ago the founder of Hot Rod magazine, Robert E. Petersen, created his museum to cars. Now Robert Petersen is gone, and the museum’s current management is ringing in some big changes. At the recent Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance they announced plans for a dramatic overhaul of the building, jazzing up its rather dark interior, creating more exciting installations, and wrapping the building in undulating “ribbons” of steel. The architect is Eugene Kohn, of the New York firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, and he talks about how the design is intended to capture in its imagery the "speed, elegance, motion and power" of gorgeous cars, particularly "French cars with Italian bodies" of the 1930s.

But the excitement at the new plans have been somewhat tempered by stories that circulated about the sale of some of the Petersen’s classic cars. Jerry Hirsch, automotive business reporter for the Los Angeles Times, set off a firestorm when he reported that “the Petersen is quite under the radar selling off 100+ of its vehicles” in order to finance capital construction, in what he describes as a breach of its public trust.




Frances Anderton