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Membership Had Become an Issue

November 29, 2000|JOHN O'DELL

The departure of Petersen Director Ken Gross is an amiable one by all reports--he says it is simply time for him and his wife to return to the East Coast to be closer to their children and grandchildren.

But he acknowledges one difference of opinion, over financing, that well could be the catalyst for the timing of his resignation.

Gross sees himself as a populist--believing that the best support for the museum is the broadest--and would welcome all comers into membership in the Petersen's support groups. Currently there are about 1,800 museum members who pay annual dues of $50 to $1,000.

Those at the upper end of that range are members of the Checkered Flag 200--a group Gross would like to see become the Checkered Flag Unlimited.

But museum foundation Chairman Bruce Meyer would prefer to keep a lid on its growth. Members of the group are mostly Southern California car collectors, enthusiasts and motor-sports figures who pay $1,000 a year for the privilege. Among its other activities, the group organizes private tours of members' collections and trips to automotive events.

Meyer says he is not opposed to seeing membership grow--the roster is up to about 250 active members--but has reservations about opening it all at once to all comers.

"If I differ with Bruce on anything, it is on exclusiveness," Gross said.

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