Museums for those interested in science or transportation

By Nogie Demirjian, 17, Granada Hills High School
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This curvy muscle car is among the prime examples at the Petersen.
Photo by Associate Editor Sue Doyle

You can take a step back in time, hit the big screen and then leap into the future all in one place—the Petersen Automotive Museum, 6060 Wilshire Blvd.

The museum features three floors of automobiles, from the antique-looking cars of the 1900s on the first floor to the breathtaking cars of the ’50s and ’60s found on the second floor. Children can get a hands-on experience with cars on the third floor, called the May Family Discovery Center.

The Petersen Automotive Museum is like no other museum I’ve been to. The key difference is that you aren’t overwhelmed by a sea of art and mazes of endless hallways, since there are only three floors. So basically you won’t get lost and end up on the other side of the planet, like you would when visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art.

However, for car enthusiasts like me, that can be disappointing. People like me want to see more cars and would not mind getting lost.

The second floor, my favorite, contains most of the cool cars. All the cars featured either have muscle-car inspiration or are the bulky, chromed out, heavy metal cars that can’t fit in most garages. What makes these cars so appealing to me, besides their obvious good looks, is that you rarely see them on the road. If you’re lucky, perhaps you own one or know someone who does. For the rest of us, we rely on museums like this or classic auto shows to see these awesome cars.

There’s a section on the second floor that has rotating exhibits. Currently it is presented by the Guitar Center and is called the Cars and Guitars exhibit.There’s a car used in the Monkees TV show, a red car from Van Halen’s "Hot for Teacher" video and a psychedelic Porsche owned by Janis Joplin. There was Elton John’s long white 1986 Lincoln Excelerator Limo, and Cher’s huge black Ford F-100 pick-up truck!

The third floor, my least favorite, had a Discovery Center for little kids.

Getting there

Driving: From the 405, take the 10 going east. Exit onto Fairfax Avenue and turn left. The museum sits on the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard. Parking is available on the streets, or you can pay $6 to park in the museum’s parking structure.

Public transportation: Fairfax is served by bus 217 and Wilshire is served by buses 20, 21 and 720.
For more info, contact the Petersen Automotive Museum, 6060 Wilshire Blvd., (323) 964-6356; Hours: Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. $5 for students with ID, $7 for adults.