New Exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum - License Plates: Unlocking the Code

Over 220 license plates will be examined in the newest exhibit opening at the Petersen on Nov. 26th. These artifacts, which showcase the unusual stories behind license plates, offer a unique look not only at the history of the automobile, but also the history of California, the U.S. and the world.

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| Source: Petersen Automotive Museum

Los Angeles, Calif., Nov. 26, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In 1928, Massachusetts had one of the worst fishing seasons the state had ever seen. In that same year, a new license plate design included a fish symbol, which pointed away from the state's abbreviation, "Mass." Superstitious residents blamed the fish symbol and after the DMV employee responsible was fired and the design updated with the fish pointing towards the word "Mass," the fishing industry again saw prosperous years. This is one example of the many license plate stories explored in the new exhibit, License Plates: Unlocking the Code, running Nov. 26, 2013 - March 30, 2014 at the Petersen, the anchor of Los Angeles's Miracle Mile.  

Celebrating the centennial of the State of California issuing its own license plates - which began in 1914--the exhibit will feature over 220 plates displayed with numerous plate-related ephemera and memorabilia that reflects culture, values, politics, marketing and superstitions found all over the world. Some of the stories and facts include:

  • The earliest automobiles were given numbers and it was up to the owner to figure out a way to display them on the vehicle. Metal or wooden numbers affixed to a piece of leather was common in the early 1900s.
  • Specific plates manufactured between 1909 and 1913 through the Automobile Club of Southern California and the American Automobile Association are nicknamed "Mickey Mouse Plates" for their resemblance to the famous Disney Character.
  • Prior to 1972, every province of Argentina had its own unique plate design. A license plate from the Neuguen region features an intricate waterfall design--and all plates were hand painted.

The Petersen's Chief Curator, Leslie Kendall, worked with three major license plate collectors including respected license plate historian, Jeff Minard, to create this exhibit. "It was a pleasure to help create this exhibit," said Minard. "There really is educational value to each plate in this display, and at the same time, these unique pieces are displayed as art for everyone to enjoy."

Other current exhibits at the Petersen include Pickups: The Art of Utility, Fins: Form without Function, the Hollywood Gallery: Cars of Film and Television and others. Another new exhibit at the Petersen is An Icon Re-Envisioned: The Jaguar Sports Car which features some of Jaguars most iconic vehicles, from the 1937 SS100 to the new 2014 F-TYPE V8 S in a display running from Dec. 7, 2013 - Feb 16, 2014. The museum is also offering tours of Vault--the underground storage area that houses the vehicles not currently on display including many of the collection's "crown jewels," like the "Round Door" Rolls-Royce, a rare Jaguar XKSS formerly owned by Steve McQueen and a 1939 Bugatti given to the Shah of Iran as a wedding present.

To find out about upcoming events at the museum or for more information, visit www.Petersen.org. Remember to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

The Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity.  The Museum is located at 6060 Wilshire Boulevard (at Fairfax) in Los Angeles, California 90036.  Admission prices are $15 for general admission adults, $10 for seniors, $10 for students with ID, $5 for children ages 3 to 12. Museum members, active military with ID and children under three are admitted free. Vault tours are available for an additional $25, and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Parking is free for the first 30 minutes and $2.00 each additional 30 minutes. One hour validation with purchase of $10 or more in the Museum Store or Johnny Rockets located in the museum lobby.  Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 6pm. For general Museum information, call 323/930-CARS or visit the Museum's Web site at: www.petersen.org.  Remember to like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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Laura Conrad|Kahn Media
818-881-5246 ext. 8