Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Charm is Gone

Newly designed Petersen Automotive Museum, photo from Petersen collection

On Monday, Larry and I visited the newly remodeled Petersen Automotive Museum on the Miracle Mile. The re-opening of the Museum was a year ago, so we thought we should really visit to see all of the "improvements." The Petersen organization spent over $125 million for this renovation.
Original Seibu Department Store, 1962, Welton Becket and Associates. Photo, Marvin Rand

The new exterior wraps bands of steel and mesh together in a bubble over the originally designed former department store by Welton Becket. The Becket-designed Seibu Department store (later Ohrbach's) is still there. The red bands of steel and mesh are supposed to look like the motion of fast-moving cars. OK, it's definitely eye-catching, especially when lit. While it was being constructed, we called it The Bacon Building.The combination of the flowing steel strips and red lights looked like strips of bacon to us locals.
Petersen Automotive Museum, re-design and adaptive re-use, 1994. Fins 
were added to the exterior to resemble a vintage car. Photo from youarehere.com

The floor plan of the museum has been opened up. Many of the display walls are gone, replaced by video displays and actual cars. The design is flowing and excellent. You are supposed to start on the third floor and work your way down. There are elevators and a circular staircase. The innovative elevators, with the up and down on the same side, are gone.
Larry with the Hollywood Movie Cars

Also gone are the Los Angeles street scenes with actual replicas of old buildings, stores and gas stations in the L.A. area. I really miss those displays on the first floor. There were very few references to how important the automobile was to the development of Los Angeles. This museum could be Anywhere, USA. 
Batman's Motorcycle with Sidecar for Robin
Cool Vintage Scooters

Vintage Hollywood movie cars and displays are on the third floor. Other modes of transportation and race cars are on the second floor. The first floor is reserved for revolving exhibitions. This month there are Bugatti cars in residence, along with some art cars painted by Keith Haring.
Buick Special, painted by artist, Keith Haring

My favorite piece in the entire Museum wasn't a car at all! It was a very long mural called "Los Angeles, The Living City," originally by Sandra Drinning, 1997, on the side of a supermarket in KoreaTown. Here's a story about the reproduction of this 16 x 94-foot mural!
The reproduction of this mural is worth the price of admission, almost.
Car Crash!

Instead of the affordable Johnny Rockets Hamburgers, there is now a pricey, but lovely Drago Restaurant on the main floor. The Petersen is definitely trying to appeal to the concours d'elegance crowd. OK, I'm done with that Museum. Sigh.

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At 3:39 PM PST, Blogger ken bloom said...

The older we get, the more past things recede. It's a lot faster out on The Coast than here in quiet NC. Things have changed even around here. I herald your efforts at preservation. In a town like LA where change is the ideal, it's really a battle. I noticed how few things are still as they were when I was out there in August. That trip up Beachwood Canyon was a sad eye opener but not unexpected. To quote my perceptive sister, "sigh!"

At 7:49 AM PST, Blogger LadyEEKnits said...

It does seem bittersweet, the changes seen in Los Angeles. Was back in town two years ago for my 50th high school reunion. (Mira Costa High School, Manhattan Beach). A few things were the same others utterly transformed. It is a shame that the "old Los Angeles streetscenes" are gone. We never got a change to see this museum, maybe I give it a look next time I'm out. I do enjoy your commentary of where I grew up.

At 7:52 AM PST, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Thanks for the comment, LadyEEKnits! The Petersen is OK, but do visit the L.A. County Museum of Art across the street. Even though the buildings there are a hodgepodge, the museum has some wonderful exhibits!

At 9:19 AM PST, Blogger Unknown said...

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