LA is the city 0f 1000 freeways, constant traffic and a worship of all things motorized; so its no wonder that it houses one of the best automotive museums in the country as well. The Petersen Automotive Museum is a metallic monolith, smack in the middle of LA’s museum row, full of cars, motorcycles and other wheeled beasts. It’s a museum that my husband actually likes, which is an anomaly in itself, and its easy to spend a few hours here basking in all the chrome plated beauty.
In my home city of Seattle, people pride themselves on being carless, on getting around by bus, bike or other modes of transportation. This point of honor seems to horrify most Angelenos, who can’t imagine life without a car. Having lived there for six months without one myself after my Honda was stolen not once but twice, I can vouch that life in LA without a car does indeed suck. A car is what people see first, that instant material snapshot that seems to define one’s success in life, most especially in the city of angels. Back in my Hollywood barrio days it wasn’t uncommon to see a neighbor of mine roll up to their apartment shanty in a blinged out Lexus. That was the image, it didn’t matter if they shared a 1 bedroom apartment with 6 other people; they drove a Lexus thru the molten streets of Hollywood and in the eyes of LA, that meant they had arrived.
Opened in 1994 by magazine publisher Robert E. Petersen, the museum has everything from concept cars to iconic rides like the Batmobile and Back to the Future’s DeLorean. My car obsessed 3 year old was briefly struck mute, a rare but beautiful event, when he came face to face with Lightning McQueen from Disney’s Cars. As his metallic hero loomed over him, London’s face glowed ever so slightly with pure bliss and I realized then & there that the love affair between humans and motorized things is primal & instinctive. Driving a car is like flying on wheels and as close to tasting the wind without leaving the ground as we’ll ever get.
Cars take us to the far ends of the earth, where planes, trains and even boats cannot go. They make adventure accessible to the masses and allow us escape at the push of a pedal. So though I don’t share the same level of car mania that my son does, I can appreciate his attraction and in a city where its roads are as iconic as its weather, he is most assuredly not alone.
Petersen Automotive Museum
6060 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Open Monday-Sunday 10am~6pm
Adults $15 Kids $7 Under 3 FREE