One Good Life in Los Angeles

Roslyn's observations about places and events around Southern California

Appreciating the art and design of cars at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles

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As everybody knows, I am not a car person. Although I love my ten-year-old Subaru Outback, I leave her in my garage as much as possible and go by foot, bus or train to my destination.

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Another way I get around the city is on a tour bus when I am working as a tour guide. Quite often after leaving Beverly Hills we make the turn off Wilshire to Fairfax on the way to the Farmers Market. On the southeast corner sits the Petersen Automotive Museum.

At the top of this post is a portrait of magazine publisher Robert E. Petersen who founded the museum in 1994.

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The Citroen. Only the French could love a car that looks like that… but I admit I have a soft spot for it!

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I wonder if this is how Chris Burden got his inspiration for his  Metropolis II kinetic sculpture at LACMA. There was no attribution for this installation. Was this Chris Burden’s work too?

http://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/metropolis-iihttp://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/metropolis-iipetersen-automotive-museumMy next new car. Gas mileage? Who cares?

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The last time I visited the Petersen museum had to be at least twelve years ago when a friend from out of town wanted to see it. Even though cars are not my thing, I really enjoyed the experience. So every time I made that turn in the motor coach I said to myself that I must go back.

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As vice president of the Culver City Art Group I am always putting on my thinking cap to help our president come up with new and different ideas for activities. The design of automobiles is just another creative expression concerned with the visual appearance or aesthetics of  a vehicle, so this seemed like it would be appealing to our artist members.

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And I was interested in trying my hand at photographing some machinery with my new camera.

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Our president IS a car person and prefers to drive everywhere. But  I convinced her that saving $12 (for the parking fee at the museum) was worth a little time and effort. And if I can take public transportation rather than my car, I am on it!

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So we rode the Culver CityBus line #1 to Fairfax then jumped on the MTA #217 to Wilshire Boulevard.

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This boat designer decided to model his latest design after the car style of the day!

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My friend remarked on how easy it was to get to the museum not having to worry about fighting traffic (it is notoriously terrible on Fairfax at any time of any day), saving the exorbitant parking fee (I will spend my money on a good dinner but not for parking my car) and all for $1.20 round trip with no wear and tear on the car or using up precious gas. I rest my case!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l2tLIZHlBQpetersen-automotive-museum

Fred Astaire’s elegant transportation complete with picnic basket on the rear exterior. You can surely imagine him stepping gracefully out of the vehicle and doing a little tap dance on that shiny tile floor!

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Batman! Batman! Oh, Batman has never been the same for me since Adam West.

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Grease Lightning… Go greased lightning!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l2tLIZHlBQ

Solar panel car. Is this the future or the past present future perfect? Geez, I always get my tenses mixed up!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l2tLIZHlBQ

Escalator up to the second floor. Or down to the first floor depending on your perspective. That is life, isn’t it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l2tLIZHlBQ

Southern California was a major part of the Indianpolis 500. I was surprised there was no mention of E.B. Gilmore who was responsible for the Original Farmers Market just a hop and a skip down Fairfax. You can research his participation on the internet.

http://www.farmersmarketla.com/Default.asp

The last time I was at the Petersen they displayed a tricked out drag version of my previous favorite car, my ’86 Toyota Celica GTS. How I miss that car! It was a stick shift and despite only four cylinders I could beat any other car off the mark 96% of the time. That is not a scientifically proven figure but in those days it was important to me to be the first one out of the gate. I am happy to say I have calmed down and come to my senses since then and am now quite content to be a little old lady driver!

http://www.farmersmarketla.com/Default.asp

I was disappointed that the car was no longer on display. Perhaps it is in the vault (currently open to the public but we didn’t spend the extra bucks to get in there.)

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Once again I enjoyed viewing these classic, odd, funny, futuristic and famous cars. Sorry I can’t identify them for you.

I was (and am) more interested in them as a form of art. I was intrigued by the lines, the angles, the shapes, the textures and the colors. If I was there on my own I probably could have spent the whole day lining up compositions and capturing details and abstract patterns. But the whole idea of this post is to show some of the cars.

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Old time grocery store. The butcher is weilding a knife over a blackboard announcing prime rib for 25 cents a pound and clams for 8 cents a pound. Recognize the customer in the center? A Buster Keaton look-alike!

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I am a member!!!!!!!!!!

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The first time my family lived in Los Angeles we had our bread delivered to our door. The service was discontinued by 1969.

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Don’t mess with this law enforcement official. I was afraid he was going to turn around and scare the heck out of me, he was so lifelike.

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Dig that steering wheel!

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Woodies! If I could go back in time this would definitely be my vehicle of choice. I wonder if I could have wood panelling applied to my Subaru?

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Ollie and Stan going for a ride in their Ford.

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I took 150 photos at the museum that day. I cannot tell you how difficult it was to pick the ones to show you here. I wanted to post them all!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, please check with us first for proper usage. Thanks!

Author: RMW

I am an explorer and creative person. I've had many jobs, careers and interests... everything in life and the universe fascinates me. Born in Brighton, England, I've lived my entire adult life in Los Angeles. Recently I rediscovered photography and I am busy learning everything I can about it. It's a great excuse for getting outside, wandering around and stopping to look at things.

14 thoughts on “Appreciating the art and design of cars at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles

  1. Update: The Petersen Automotive Museum is hosting a Corvette anniversay celebration exhibit March 1 and 2, 2013. http://www.petersen.org/visit/museum-events/60th-corvette-anniversary-2013

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  2. I’m not a car person either, but even I have to admit those are some pretty darn cool cars!

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  3. Your photos are fantastic. You really captured the feel of the exhibit.

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  4. The Citroën, I own one.

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    • Fantastic… you don’t see too many in LA…. if at all…. but it is a charming car!

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      • In the Netherlands there are about 35 carcompagny’s spcialized in Citroën DS.

        There are more Goddesses in Holland than anywhere in the world.

        I’m not special. I like my car and I love to dvrive it. As about 10.000 Dutch DS-owners do.

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  5. I didn’t realize it is called a Goddess… I just looked it up and read all about the car… I see there is a movie called “The Goddess of 1967” so I just added it to my Netflix list… the things you learn when you are blogging!

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  6. This looks like a wonderful place to spend an afternoon. How much do you think they want for that Batmobile??!?

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    • I know the original TV batmobile just sold at auction for over $4 million. From what I understand the new owner is going to show it in his living room! Not sure which version this one is, but if you are interested, they might go for five… and it would make a great coffee table!!!!!!

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  7. I saw the Petersen Museum in January (2016) and realized that cars are more icons of the 20th century than of this 21st century. The cars are much better as efficient vehicles now, but the magic has largely been lost. Nostalgia for the 20th century is part of the Petersen experience for older visitors.

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    • Yes, Etienne, I agree with you. Also, looking back at this post, I realize how much I preferred the older version of the museum… it was much more warm and fuzzy than the new, improved museum which seems a lot colder and more austere. But that’s just me! Thanks for stopping by!

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