Two of America's greatest car museums made news last week, almost as though they were working in tandem (it was just a co-incidence). The Petersen Museum in Los Angeles announced that it has received the stunning gift of $100 million from Margie Petersen and the Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation to continue and grow the famed museum founded by the late Robert E. Petersen. The gift, announced by the museum’s board of directors, is comprised of a substantial unrestricted financial gift, a matching challenge, the 300,000-square foot building that the Museum has occupied since it opened in 1994, and an important collection of cars assembled by Petersen during his lifetime.
“I am fulfilling a vision that Mr. Petersen and I shared and planned to do someday,” Margie Petersen said in announcing the gift. “I am so happy that this day has come and that I can launch the museum into a new era of growth and expansion. “While I expect the resources of the museum to be available to the world, this gift is especially designed to the benefit of the Los Angeles community where we made our lives together.” One of the Crown Jewels of the Margie and Robert E. Petersen Collection is the 1925/34 Rolls-Royce Phantom I (above), known as "The Round Door Rolls."
Call it serendipity if you like, but as that incredible gift was being announced the operators of the LeMay Museum, ACM, informed us that the Tacoma, Wash., project, built mostly through philanthropic funding, will have its grand opening on May 19, 2012. True, that's more than a year away but this is really more than a car museum. Starting with the cars that Harold LeMay had collected for his own amusement, and then for the public to visit on special occasions, the 9-acre campus will have 15 galleries housing up to 500 cars, trucks and motorcycles from private owners, corporations and the LeMay collection, which amassed a Guinness Book of World Records total of more than 3,500 vehicles in the mid-‘90s. “Harold never met a car he didn’t like,” says Nancy LeMay about her late husband. (Note how, in both instances, it's the ladies who continue their husband's legacy. Bless them for understanding and appreciating car love.)
“We’ve managed to build a museum (which began construction in June 2010) during difficult economic times when nearly everybody said it couldn’t be done,” says ACM President and CEO David Madeira, who has been at the museum’s helm since 2002. “I’m proud to say we are creating ‘a destination’ in addition to a museum, which we project to annually attract 425,000 visitors and result in $34 million for the local economy.”
The above news has caused me to wonder if a grand museum tour might be organised in 2012, beginning in Vancouver, BC, with stopovers at the LeMay Museum, one or two interesting collections along the way, and terminating at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles. Or, because not everyone owns a classic, doing it by rail. As a train enthusiast as well as a car lover, that's my idea of a genuine good time. Any takers?