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The museum experience launches at the top floor in the Introduction Gallery. After stepping off the elevator, visitors are treated to an introductory video designed to stir the emotions and challenge patrons to consider their relationship with the automobile.

Here, a 1956 Jaguar XKSS formerly owned by actor Steve McQueen exemplifies how society fell in love with the automobile.


Visitors are guided through automotive history using five different ‘lenses’ of categorization: Style, Innovation, Freedom, Utility and Distinction. Each lens features two curated automobiles and one motorcycle that exemplify the chosen theme.

Visitors are able to experience a sharper focus into lesser known areas of the past.


Starting a modern car can be as simple as simply sitting down and selecting drive. A century ago, that wasn’t necessarily the case. This exhibit features a Ford Model T for visitors to get behind the wheel and ultimately learn about the car that changed the world.

The ability to climb in and interact with this century old car means this display will be one of the most-photographed areas of the new Petersen museum.


Any conversation about the automobile would be incomplete without examining the relationship between cars and film. From the Batmobile to the Pontiac Aztek from Breaking Bad, this gallery presents the cars of the big and small screen.

A wall of stitched video content spans the length of this exhibit, honoring some of the best automotive moments from Hollywood history.


More than almost any other city in the world, Los Angeles was built for the automobile. This space uses a 3D interactive topographic map display that showcases how the car shaped the world around us.

The Automobile Club of Southern California helped shape this landscape and has contributed massive volumes of archives to this display.


Sometimes a concept car’s ideas come to pass and an innovative feature shapes the industry for decades to come. Other ideas represent dead-ends that, in hindsight, seem obviously doomed.

Either way, a concept car’s vision for the future can say a lot about the hopes and challenges of the time it was created.


Whether inspired by necessity or by desire, each modification on a car accomplishes something special – It furthers the bond between a car and its owner. From parts that allow a car to accelerate faster, turn harder or even jump through the air, there are as many variations to modification as there are personality types.


Automotive art isn’t limited to the cars rolling down the road. Sometimes, art can be found on the street itself. This exhibit features a one third scale replica of a now-gone Western Avenue mural allowing visitors to experience a car’s environment with a uniquely Los Angeles flavor.