Petersen Museum

Mouseion: Seat of the Muses

The origin of the word mouseion has its roots in Greece. Museums were a designated place for philosophical pursuits and deep thought.


The concept of a museum dates back to the early third century BCE and is attributed to the Great Museum at Alexandria. Actually, it was more of a prototype university than a museum for curating and preserving human creations.

With the passing of time, the mouseion evolved into the museum, and this term was used to describe a very famous one at that; the collection of Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence, Italy. But this did not denote the concept of a building housing such a collection as we know it today.

The seventh century is said to be credited with the concept of a building designated for housing and curating a collection of works. In 1675 a collection of works was transported to the University of Oxford. Known as “Musaeum Tradescantianum”, a building was constructed specifically to house it and soon after in 1683 open to the public.

The modern concept of the museum is historically interesting but I will end here.


I’ve not had much exposure to museums not for lack of means but rather interest. They seemed to only speak to the hearts of the rich, artists, and those interested in art. This would change as I grew more creatively.

Growing into a photographer over the years allowed me to become enlightened to the importance and more importantly the need to appreciate art in all its forms.

Among many interests I admire automobiles. Most men do. For many years I’ve heard of and driven past the Petersen Automotive Museum. There has always been an interest to visit but for whatever reason never did.

The Petersen Automotive Museum has been around since 1994. I was surprised to learn that it is housed in a historical landmark. The building it occupies is a former store dating back to 1962. That store was Seibu Department Store which sold Japanese products. It was designed in the Mid-Century Modern architectural style and was said to have a Japanese garden that surrounded a restaurant and reflecting pools but it was famous for its rooftop glass pavilion. However, it closed shortly after it opened in 1965 and another business, Ohrbach’s department store, moved in.

Petersen Museum Expirence

The Petersen Museum is much larger than the appearance of the building suggests from the outside. There are many areas to explore though not nearly as large as the Los Angeles Convention Center Car Show.

From classics, hot rods, modifieds, and concepts, they can all be found in the collections. The sense of space is adequate in most cases until you visit “The Vault”.

The Vault is a special area where vintage vehicles are largely on display. It requires a separate admission ticket for access but if you are a car nut you won’t regret it. Just be prepared to accept the fact that photographing the cars is not permitted so you will have to recall the experience from memory.

if you live in Los Angeles or come to visit, the Petersen museum deserves to be on your must-see list.

After spending time walking around the collections at the museum I began to realize how important museums are. They spark a conversation and deep thought. Museums are places that foster learning, history, culture, and the need for humans to express themselves through art in all forms.

Furthermore, what urban setting would be complete without museums?

There are future plans for me to visit museums in Los Angeles as it has some of the best around.

Transformer on display Petersen Automotive Museum
Bumblebee the Transformer
Lowrider pickup truck at Petersen Automotive Museum.
Lowrider Pickup Truck
1964 Chevy Impala lowrider at Petersen Automotive Museum.
Impala Lowrider

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