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Petersen Automotive Museum gets $100 million in buildings, cash and cars from founder's widow

April 26, 2011 |  1:38 pm

The Petersen Automotive Museum announced Tuesday that one of its founding supporters, Margie Petersen, has given $100 million in buildings, land, cash and cars to the Wilshire Boulevard showcase spearheaded by her late husband, automotive magazine publisher Robert E. Petersen.

“We’re all just absolutely ecstatic,” said Buddy Pepp, executive director of the museum at Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, across from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Pepp said the cash component is “many, many, many millions of dollars” but won’t be disclosed at the request of Petersen. The donation includes the museum's site (including the adjoining parking garage) -- owned by the Margie and Robert E. Petersen Foundation and valued at $17.6 million on the county assessor's rolls -- and Robert Petersen's collection of 135 cars, which already were at the museum's disposal for exhibition.

The museum, which opened in 1994, draws about 150,000 visitors a year, Pepp said. With the infusion of resources, the aim is to thoroughly refurbish the interior and augment the exterior to achieve a more eye-grabbing presence on Wilshire in hopes of drawing passersby who Pepp said may not be aware that the building houses a major automotive museum. Some of the money is earmarked for hiring the museum's first fundraising staff, with the goal of launching  an endowment campaign.

Read more details of a gift that Pepp expects will make it possible to "catapult the museum into world-renowned status."


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-- Mike Boehm

Photo: Robert E. and Margie Petersen in 2002 with a 1938 Delahaye Roadster at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Robert Petersen died in 2007. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times