Petersen Museum’s Terrible Idea

There must be something in the water at Fairfax and Wilshire. Hot on the heels of the awful proposal to tear down the original three LACMA buildings and replace it with an imposing ink blot comes a new “vision” for the Petersen Automotive Museum which is somehow worse than the LACMA travesty.

Take a look at the preliminary sketch of what they want to do to the exterior of the museum.

petersen museum

Now, I don’t know what this is supposed to be, but I know one thing — it is heinous. It is eye-catching, for sure, but it is vomit-inducing as well. It is simply a mess, a far cry from the mid-century building as it stands today.

petersen museum

I don’t disagree that the structure can use a refreshing, but that is the fault of the Petersen Museum brain-trust, not the building itself. There is no entrance in front — you have to enter through the parking lot. And the blacked-out windows certainly do not create an invitation to come inside and see what’s going on. There is a way to improve the facade without replacing it with ribbons of steel, if that is what that thing is supposed to be.

Then there is the controversy of the museum selling off much of its collection. The Los Angeles Times created quite a tempest when it reported that dozens of classic cars would be sold and the museum would refocus its efforts on motorcycles and French cars (?).

In a response, the Petersen Museum said it is selling cars that are not display-worthy and would be too expensive to restore, as well as duplicate cars. The “crown jewels” will not be sold. The museum also denies the motorcycle and French car stuff, saying it will not deviate from Robert Petersen’s original vision of focusing on the Southern California car culture.

That is good news, but those plans for the exterior must be scraped.