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Petersen Museum gets new chair

Fri, 11 Jan 2013

Peter Mullin, a car guy with excellent taste and the means to do something about it, has become chairman of the board of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

Lucky place, the Petersen. Mullin's vice-chairs, who will help lead the museum into the 21st century, are uber car guys Bruce Meyer and David Sydorick, both longtime supporters of the institution. Last year the estate of the late Margie and Robert E. Petersen gave $100 million to the museum that bears their name. And the staff of the museum is among the most richly talented of any museum you'll find anywhere.

But let's get back to Mullin. If you haven't been to the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, Calif., you really have to go. Mullin always loved the art deco movement of 1930s France, especially the cars. That museum represents the best collection of cars from the art deco movement that may ever be assembled anywhere. He has another, smaller private museum of sorts in West Los Angeles. He is a board member of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, president of the American Bugatti Club and two years ago won Best of Show at Pebble Beach with his astonishingly cool 1934 Voisin C-25 Aerodyne.

As the chairman of M Financial and M Life, a national financial services and insurance company, he knows how to successfully build and run a business. He is also active on the boards of Avery Dennison and St. John's Hospital, is the current chairman of the Music Center Foundation and is the past chairman and a current board member for the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management. Mullin has been instrumental in helping the Archdiocese of Los Angeles raise more than $100 million in endowments for scholarships for inner-city children.

And he speaks! Listen:

“I'm honored and excited -- this is an opportunity to breathe new life into an icon of Los Angeles' car culture,” he said. “Outgoing chair, Steve Young, who decided to retire as of Dec. 31, 2012, has given the museum five years of outstanding leadership and guided us through some of the most turbulent economic times in memory. For that we owe him a debt of gratitude and I am so pleased that he will remain on the board. The Petersen has the perfect location, a great building, a fantastic collection and is highly respected. We have exciting plans to grow the collection and make architectural improvements that will make the Petersen a must-see destination for enthusiasts worldwide. Robert E. Petersen built a testament to the automobile, as we approach the museum's 20th anniversary we will transform it into the world-class experience anyone with a passion for the automobile will want to see.”

Petersen Executive Director Terry Karges is happy with the succession of Mullin, too.

“Peter Mullin is admired worldwide as a businessman, car collector and community leader -- his unique ability to merge these three worlds will be a tremendous asset to the museum and we're thrilled about this announcement,” Karges said. “This is a 'dream team' whose vision will help us become one of the world's most exciting automotive destinations.”

Not to mention a great place for them to park a lot of their extra collector cars.

Mullin's new position with the board comes at an exciting time for the museum. For the first time in its nearly 20-year history, the museum's long-secret-and-mysterious Vault -- where cars are kept underground before and after they're displayed upstairs -- is now open to the public and has enjoyed record attendance. It will remain open indefinitely. Other exhibitions in the museum include "Aerodynamics: From Art to Science," which runs through May 27 and presents an entertaining and enlightening visual overview of the landmarks of aerodynamic design. Also on display is “Sculpture in Motion: Masterpieces of Italian Design,” a look at the finest Italian automotive designs from the 1930s through today's modern supercars in the museum's grand salon through Feb. 3. These temporary exhibitions join permanent galleries which cover topics ranging from Hollywood vehicles to alternative power, motorcycles, hot rods, and the Streetscape, which takes visitors through the evolution of Los Angeles and the automobile.

The Petersen is located at 6060 Wilshire Blvd. (at Fairfax) in Los Angeles. See Tell 'em Mullin sent you.

By Mark Vaughn