Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Halloween

5/27/2006

A visit to the Petersen Museum

Filed under: — stan @ 5:25 pm

Read the sign

Today we went over to the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. This was an amusing little bit of history, since Los Angeles is a city that grew up and was largely formed by the automobile.

The first thing we saw there was Art Arfons’s “Green Monster” out in the parking garage. Years ago I saw a documentary about him on PBS, and it was very interesting. Art is something of the hard-luck story of the land-speed record circuit. He set the record three times, only to have each record broken just a short time later.

On the second floor of the museum they had three special exhibits. One was about Hot Wheels, including full-sized Hot Wheels cars that were built for the exhibit. To an eight-year-old boy in 1968, Hot Wheels were the stuff of dreams. And it’s tremedously funny that someone took the time and effort to actually build real cars out of them. The second exhibit was “Cars and Guitars” with lots of rock stars’ cars. That was amusing. They had a couple of Elvis’s old cars, including one that he shot in frustration when it broke down.

The third exhibit was about the future and alternate power sources. That was mostly amusing because they talked about hybrid cars and had a 1917 Woods hybrid. Apparently it was an idea ahead of its time. They said that at the time it was the worst of both electric and gasoline, and it didn’t catch on. They also had a mockup of a proposed nuclear-powered car, but I think I’m glad that that never got serious consideration.

The last part of the museum we visited was the children’s area on the third floor. Cathy and Lucinda took turns climbing into the Indy car there, and they also posed in the Model T.

And of course no visit to a museum with a kid is complete without the gift shop. Lucinda got some little trinkets and Cathy got a “Built for Speed” pinup girl shirt.

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