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Petersen Automotive Museum to keep vault open; new chairman named

January 11, 2013|By W.J. Hennigan
  • Tour guide Kevin Blackley talks about a trio of Ferraris to visitors touring the Petersen Automotive Museum vault.
Tour guide Kevin Blackley talks about a trio of Ferraris to visitors touring… (Patrick T. Fallon / For The…)

Ever since the Petersen Automotive Museum opened the doors to its downstairs vault to the public, the institution has had a steady line of people trying to get in.

For that reason, the museum said it will keep the vault open indefinitely. Petersen officials had previously planned to shut down the hourlong tours Jan. 6.

Taking up a city block on Wilshire Boulevard's Museum Row, the Petersen has drawn visitors since 1994. Its collection is considered one of the finest in the country, with detailed dioramas and presentations that provide historic and cultural context.

Once restricted to high-ranking museum personnel and visiting VIPs, the vault tour is far different from the galleries upstairs. Inside, in a space the size of a football field, are 150 cars parked as if in a city lot. There are no special displays with mannequins, velvet ropes and faux boulevards.

PHOTOS: The Petersen Automotive Museum vault

The tours are small -- no more than 20 people at a time -- and offer the chance for visitors to walk right up to a Ferrari given to Henry Ford II by Enzo Ferrari, or a rare Jaguar XKSS formerly owned by actor Steve McQueen, or the Volkswagen Beetle driven by Lindsay Lohan in “Herbie Fully Loaded.”

Tours cost $25 on top of the museum's $12 admission fee.

In addition, the Petersen Museum announced Thursday that Peter Mullin, 71, has been elected chairman to its board of directors.

The Los Angeles native currently serves as the chairman of M Financial and M Life, a national financial services and insurance company.  

He’s also a gear-head. Mullin is the founder and chairman of the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, a facility that houses some of the rarest cars in the world. He also serves as a board member for Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design and is president of the American Bugatti Club.

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