There's a strange phenomenon, when you're a commuter or you travel a certain stretch of road often, where particular buildings can escape your notice, sometimes for years, be they particularly ordinary or nothing special.
Finally when someone points the building out to you, perhaps a passenger, you have to blink a few times and admit you'd never noticed it.
This will never, ever, ever be the case with the newly re-imagined, chrome'd-out, made-bigger-'n-brassier Petersen Automotive Museum, located at the southeast corner of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard. Every person who beholds the silver-and-red, whoosh-laden behemoth will be able to describe it, in extravagant detail, some 50 years hence.
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates is the design outfit behind the multi-year rethink for the mid-century structure, a stylish ode to cars and car culture. But unlike other refurbishments, which tend to focus on an institution's interior, pedestrians and drivers could see this one happening in real time, as well as in spectacular jaw-droppingness, right before their take-it-all-in eyes.
Now those eyes, and the people they belong to, can see what's gone on behind the Petersen's new silver-fast exterior. The museum just announced its official Preview Day, which will zoom-zoom on Sunday, Dec. 6.
Your $200 ticket allows you entry into the museum, a guided tour, and "(p)enthouse access with an open bar." Grub and giveaway are also on the party's celebratory roster.
There's a lot of space to wander about: The Petersen, which magazine magnate Robert Petersen founded in 1994, boasts around 95,000 square feet of room for the zoom. And about 90% of the cars it displays are on loan, meaning there's a rotating feel to the place, a place where top-notch dream machines can flow in and out of the museum depending on an exhibit's theme.
"(O)nly about 150 vehicles are on display at any one time," says the Petersen. It's plenty to soak in for the car buff, the kind of aficionado who likes to lean in and gaze upon dashboards and wheel wells at length.
If you can't make the preview, hang tight: The general opening follows on Dec. 7. And the much-talked-about Vault? That'll make a showing early in 2016.
If you haven't toodled by Wilshire and Fairfax yet, do: You'll spy a building you'll be discussing for years to come, and though your listeners will claim you're exaggerating, you will not be.
There is no exaggeration necessary when describing the new Petersen.
Of course, the car museum will soon be joined by a new neighbor in a few years, the Academy Museum, which will be located across the street in the former May Company building. Will the Petersen's silver whooshes find a friend in the Academy Museum's giant glass walk-in globe? They'll be two of the most fantastical structures to be found in Southern California, and probably (definitely) beyond.
Dear Wilshire and Fairfax: Your whimsy is showing.