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Is the Petersen Auto Museum in need of transformation?

Should the museum sell off parts of its collection?
Should the museum sell off parts of its collection?

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L.A.'s museum row is home to one of the world's most renowned automotive institutions. When the LA Times reported the Petersen Automotive Museum taking a drastic detour, many car culture junkies and Angeleno history buffs were left confused.

Petersen Executive Director, Terry Karges, told KPCC he plans to, "Totally remake the museum...change it from the inside and out [and] bring it into the modern era."

The Times reported a new emphasis on motorcycles and vintage French art-deco cars, which happen to be personal favorites for Karges and a new Petersen board member. The original founder Robert Petersen was a devotee of Hollywood car culture and helped cultivate an incredible collection including Herbie, the Love Bug. Karges says there will still be one Herbie in its collection.

Still, former Peterson director, Buddy Pepp is critical of the changes. He told KPCC, "Robert and (wife) Margie were larger than life in Hollywood. They would want our grandchildren and the public to see our historic car culture in Los Angeles."

What else does the Petersen leadership plan to transform? How does an historic institution launch into a modern era? Is there really a new focus on motorcycles and French cars? How many cars are being auctioned? What would the Petersens have thought of the changes? Is this a necessary move to keep the museum interesting?


Terry Karges, Executive Director, Petersen Automotive Museum

Jason Fogelson, Freelance Automotive Journalist; Member of the board of the Motor Press Guild