Every year, more than 150,000 folks stroll through the halls of the Petersen Automotive Museum. The crowds have been coming to the Los Angles auto-institution since 1994, when the doors were first opened. And it looks like those doors will remain open for many years to come thanks to a very large donation by Margie Petersen and the Margie and Robert E. Petersen Foundation. When we say "large" we mean it, because Mrs. Petersen just handed over $100,000,000 to the Petersen Museum Foundation.
Now, before you jump out of your seat because of all those zeros, we have to explain a bit more about that figure. This $100,000,000 donation is comprised of the 300,000 square foot building, cars that were part of Robert E. Petersen's personal collection, an undisclosed influx of cash (described as a "substantial unrestricted financial gift") and a "matching challenge."
We wanted to find out a little more with regards to just how this $100 million donation breaks down. A quick call to Buddy Pepp, Executive Director of the Petersen Automotive Musuem, helped shed some light on the matter. While Mr. Pepp could not disclose the exact amount of the cash gift they're receiving, he did say that value is "enormous." He went on to state that it's "breathtaking" and will "enable us to do all the things we've wanted or need to do. It will catapult us to a world-renowned status. This donation will allow us to fulfill Bob Petersen's vision." Not only that, the "matching challenge" will make sure that the directing board keeps pushing to help the museum continue to grow.
We were hoping to get to the juicy details, and hear an exact figure, but it's good to know that the Petersen Museum is going to allow people of all ages to get a glimpse of automobiles from all eras. In fact, the total number of vehicles being donated from Petersen's private stock is 135, and that includes a handful of motorcycles as well. It's an incredibly generous gift from a couple that already give to many other groups and charities.
[Source: Petersen Automotive Museum]
LOS ANGELES (April 26, 2011) - Steven E. Young, Chairman of the Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation's Board of Directors, announced today that the Museum Foundation has received a gift of approximately $100,000,000 from Margie Petersen and the Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation.
This donation 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 the late Robert E. Petersen during his lifetime, all as part of the Museum's gift.
This gift ensures that the Museum will continue to grow in importance as one of Los Angeles' premier museums, and the largest and most acclaimed automobile museum in the nation.
"I am thrilled to make this gift which continues what Mr. Petersen and I began two decades ago, to build the most important automotive museum in the nation. My intent in doing this is to provide the Museum with the necessary resources to continue to enhance its collections, curatorial expertise and exhibitions so that generations to come will be able to forever know the history of the automobile and its role in the evolution of our nation's transportation system," said Margie Petersen.
"I am fulfilling a vision that Mr. Petersen and I shared and planned to do someday. 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," stated Margie Petersen.
A program of special importance to Mrs. Petersen has been the Museum's Free School Bus Program. Since 2005, the Museum has funded transportation that has enabled approximately 8,000 students per year from the Los Angeles Unified School District, grades K through 12, to visit the Museum. Teachers use the automobile to inspire student thinking about science, art, design, engineering, fuel supply, transportation and urban planning. Many teachers have stated that without this program the children would not have the opportunity to explore learning outside the classroom at all during the school year.
"The Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation Board is honored to acknowledge this gift as it launches a campaign to enlarge the Board and expand the reach of the Museum. We are committed to make the Petersen Automotive Museum the most important automobile venue in the world," said Board Chairman Steven Young.
"We are ecstatic to receive this extraordinary gift from Mrs. Petersen. The generosity that she and Mr. Petersen have shown has been legendary and the entire Museum staff is overjoyed by this gift," remarked Buddy Pepp, Executive Director of the Museum.
More than 150,000 visitors a year tour the Petersen Automotive Museum which is located on Museum Row on Los Angeles's Miracle Mile. In addition to the automobile and motorcycle collections of Margie and Robert E. Petersen and the Petersen Foundation collection, the Museum also displays important cars from many other car collectors who donate or loan their vehicles to the Museum.
Robert E. Petersen founded Hollywood Publicity Associates in 1947. His love of cars let him win a contract to publicize a hot rod show at the Los Angeles Armory. He quickly recognized the market for a publication about hot rods which he parlayed into the legendary Hot Rod Magazine launched in 1948.
He grew his business into a publishing empire with more than 36 monthly magazines and over 50 annual publications and became a household name among car enthusiasts.
In 1963 he married Margie McNally, a model and actress from New York. Together they built a life of business, collections and philanthropy as one of Los Angles' most prominent couples.
The Petersen car collection is renowned as one of the largest and most diverse collections in the United States. The Petersens are also known for important collections of wildlife and western art.
The couple's considerable philanthropic activities in Los Angeles include The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, The Margie and Robert E. Petersen Boys and Girls Club of Hollywood, The Music Center, The Thalians, Cedars-Sinai Hospital, St. John's Health Center and the John Wayne Cancer Institute among many others.