The restyled Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, which reopened Dec. 5, is now an art gallery of automobiles and automobilia.

Born nearly 20 years ago as a history museum focused on automobiles in the context of Southern California’s car culture, the cars are now the stars. They’re the focus, featured in spectacular lighting and plenty of room to look at their curves, chrome and colors from all angles.

Gone are the facades of old LA buildings, decorated with artifacts such as old gas pumps, and the winding pathways through what was originally a department store.

The LA and automotive history is still there, but generally in smaller doses and designed to compliment the spectacular cars on display.

I liked the old museum, but after so many years the board made the right decision to start over. They put their money into it as well, not a penny of the $90 million spent came from taxpayers. The restyle took 14 months and resulted in an interior that is well worth a visit.

The exterior has created some controversy. I can tell you that photos don’t do it justice. What you’ll see here and elsewhere are photos that depict something looking like an aluminum-and-red-paint pile of, well, poop.

However, looking at it in person, in the context of the visual cacophony that is the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax in Los Angeles, it actually stands out but blends in. You have to stand across the street at the now-closed Johnny’s Coffee Shop and look at it with your own eyes to see that it’s a statement, and a good one.

So, enjoy my photos of the media opening on Dec. 3. More details are in this story from the LA Times.

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible at Petersen Automotive Museum.
1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible at Petersen Automotive Museum.
There's still history here, including much from co-sponsor Automobile Club of Southern California.
There’s still history here, including much from co-sponsor Automobile Club of Southern California.
Displays at the Petersen Automotive Museum
Displays at the Petersen Automotive Museum
View from Wilshire and Fairfax.
View from Wilshire and Fairfax.
View of exterior sculpture from roof.
View of exterior sculpture from roof.
View of exterior sculpture from roof.
View of exterior sculpture from roof.
That's a Graham Sharknose leading the parade at the Peterson Auto Museum
That’s a Graham Sharknose leading the parade at the Peterson Auto Museum
2015 Ford GT prototype at the Peterson Auto Museum.
2015 Ford GT prototype at the Peterson Auto Museum.
Alternative fuels are the subject but the cars are still the stars at the Peterson Auto Museum
Alternative fuels are the subject but the cars are still the stars at the Peterson Auto Museum
Lowriders on display at the Peterson Auto Museum
Lowriders on display at the Peterson Auto Museum
Multi-million dollar car gallery at the Peterson Auto Museum
Multi-million dollar car gallery at the Peterson Auto Museum
Going fast while stopped at the Peterson Auto Museum
Going fast while stopped at the Peterson Auto Museum
Concepts and customs at the Peterson Auto Museum
Concepts and customs at the Peterson Auto Museum
Roots of automobile revolution at Peterson Auto Museum
Roots of automobile revolution at Peterson Auto Museum

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