|Petersen Automotive Museum|
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles is car city; so it only stands to reason that there should be a museum dedicated to all things automotive. While building automotive museum in Detroit, the birthplace of the American auto industry, Los Angeles has the honor of hosting the Petersen Automotive Museum (http://www.petersen.org). Just from standing across the street from the museum, yours truly can attest to the garish nature of the exterior. It is loud-in a visual sense. Christopher Hawthorne uses a more biblical metaphor review for the Los Angeles Times, "Review Petersen Automotive Museum's new look conveys a happily tasteless exterior." He writes,
It would be extreme-irresponsible, really-to suggest that staring too long at the new facade of the Petersen Automotive Museum, set to open Monday after a $90 million makeover, might leave you cross-eyed, cause your hair to spontaneously catch fire or turn you, Old Testament style, into a pillar of salt.
Your reaction to the exterior may not be quite that extreme but you definitely cannot look away.
|Petersen Automotive Museum under construction|
|Interior rendering of the Petersen Automotive Museum|
If you were feeling generous, inclined to look for connections between the exterior of the new Petersen and the displays, you might glimpse inside the museum's heaving architectural profile-here soaring and bending, there sagging and fall in on itself-some relevant, even upbeat reflections of car cultures, of movement and speed.
Movement and speed is definitely the impression the stainless-steel bands, enveloping the exterior, conveys to the drivers and pedestrians.
However, feeling more generous, Mr. Hawthorne writes, "Or you could acknowledge that the true impact of the design, with its stainless-steel ribbons draped over a three-story, blood-red box, is even more entertaining and populist than that, if also a little gorier." To say that the new facade is extroverted would be an understatement. Exuberant would be a better word choice. Blogger would describe it more like go disco and being instantly assaulted by the bright neon lights, the mirror ball, and the thumping beat of the music. The Petersen Automotive Museum is already storming the social media sites with pictures and updates on Instagram. (petersenmuseum)
|Black Blob version 2.0|
Petersen Automotive Museum
|Petersen Automotive Museum before the renovation|
You could also conclude that design was the product of an architectural firm, trying to keep up with "the kids" by letting the digital savants run wild with Rhino (the three-dimensional modeling software). You can even say that the relentless cheerfulness of the facade reminds you of one of those over eager motivational speakers. "You have to get in there every day and give it 100 percent. Smile with your eyes, not just your mouth. Be passionate about your work." Et cetera, ad nauseum.
|Ohrbach's Department Store c.1978|
|Rendering of pre-renovation Petersen Automotive Museum|
|Mercedes Benz Museum, 2006|
You take all of Christopher Hawthorne's keen observations of the Petersen Automotive Museum into consideration but let blogger have the final word. As someone who lives in the Miracle Mile area and watches the ongoing construction, yours truly can say that whether or not this rash of museum building is good thing is still up in the air. While yours truly believes that Michael Govan, the director of LACMA, and his counterpart at the Petersen Museum are earnest in their efforts to create an "arts hub" in the Miracle Mile. Yours truly wonders why this latest incarnation of the Petersen Automotive Museum must be so visually cluttered when considering the excellent example of Streamline Deco sitting directly across it. The Petersen Museum is now open to the public, the ultimate test of the museum's success.