Margie Petersen and the Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation have given The Petersen Automotive Museum a gift of $100 million, which will guarantee that the museum will remain open forever. It was one of the most generous philanthropy works ever given to the institution.
In 1948, Robert E. Petersen published Hot Rod magazine which started his car-based publishing empire and grew the magazine into 36 monthly titles. From 1994 until his death at age 80 in 2007, he directed the formation of the museum, which bears his name and is one of the many philanthropic endeavors of his widow, Margie Petersen.
The donation is by no means all cash, although it includes “a substantial unrestricted financial gift.” A matching challenge is present that will require essential fundraising by the current board and management of the museum to continue.
The donation also includes the one-block-square establishment and parking structure that the museum has occupied under a generous lease since the day it was opened. Moreover, it includes a valuable lineup of vehicles that Robert Petersen had assembled in his lifetime, all as part of the endowment of the museum.
Margie Petersen, who was married to Robert Petersen in 1963, has expressed her joy about making the donation, which will continue their dream of building “the most important automotive museum in the nation."
She also added that her intent of providing the donation was to give the museum the necessary resources to further enhance its collections, exhibitions and curatorial expertise so that future generations can learn the history of vehicles and their contribution to the country’s transportation system.
Chairman Steven Young of the Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation's board of directors also expressed his gratitude and enthusiasm with “Mrs. Petersen's generosity and her commitment to Mr. Petersen's memory."