Petersen Automotive Museum Partners with Pixar for Upgrade

Aug 17, 2015

Just days after the final stainless-steel ribbon was bolted into place on the new façade of the Petersen Automotive Museum, the museum unveiled its plans to utilize new technology. The inside of the museum will include panoramic video walls, driving simulators, augmented reality and “show control” light and sound systems.

“The new museum will be one of the world’s premier automotive storytelling experiences,” said Terry L. Karges, director of Petersen Automotive Museum. “Working with our creative and tech partners, we created new ways to share car stories, sights and sounds in a totally new 21st century automotive experience.”

A key piece of storytelling technology used in the new Petersen Museum is augmented reality, showcased in a groundbreaking new educational program on the museum’s second floor. Characters from the Disney/Pixar movie Cars-including Lightning McQueen, Mater and many more-will serve as teachers and guides through a notable new exhibition space: The Cars Mechanical Institute. While guests look though a “CARSpad” mobile device, the Cars characters will appear on screen to offer an education in the principles of automotive design and engineering, based on what the tablets’ camera is seeing.

Co-developed by the Petersen Automotive Museum and Pixar Animation Studios, the proprietary CARSpad tablet experience will help children of all ages learn about automotive history and technology in a fun and engaging new way.

A new Petersen Museum mobile-device app will allow visitors smartphones and tablets to receive a host of self-guided tour information relevant to their location in the museum. The app will launch in seven languages.

The updated Petersen Museum also will feature eight driving simulators in the Microsoft/Xbox Forza Racing Experience room. Adjacent to the museum’s new Motorsports Gallery, the Forza Racing Experience will offer a unique version of the cutting-edge racing simulators created just for the Petersen. In a museum first, the simulators will feature the new Ford GT, while the actual Ford GT prototype car sits just a few feet away, alongside the Petersen’s rare 1967 Ford GT40 Mark III. Competitions will be held, including plans for a novel “24 Hours of Le Mans” event during the actual race. Qualifying teams will drive new Ford GTs on the simulators during the race as if they were actually on the track in France. Forza driver changes will coincide with actual pit stops.

Within the 25 new exhibits, 1,600 overhead LED lighting fixtures and 45 Panasonic projectors will provide ultimate display flexibility. Every light and speaker in the museum is networked and can be controlled individually or as part of different thematic programs designed to maximize educational content, storytelling and entertainment, according to the museum. Called Show Control, this system allows museum staff to program the projectors individually or “stitch” them together to create a sequential “show” of panoramic motion.

A total of 42 storytelling LED monitors will be employed. These include an 8×20-foot storyboard in the Grand Concours foyer, a 166-foot-long wall that utilizes 12 projectors in the Grand Salon and a 134-foot/180-degree wall in the Motorsports Gallery.

Further, 43 interactive touch-screen kiosks will allow museum visitors to swipe and tap through multi-media exhibit information.