Awesome Automobilia: The Nethercutt Collection & Museum

I’ve still not been to the reported Miracle Mile motor mecca that is the Petersen Museum — but at least I’ve known about it!

The same cannot be said for the vehicular valhalla otherwise known as The Nethercutt out in Sylmar. Up until a couple weeks ago that institution had somehow avoided me knowing about it my entire life — and it still would be unknown to me had Huell Howser himself not reached out from beyond the grave and told me about it (in the form of an old “Visiting” episode on KCET, but still). Bless you and thank you, Huell!

Wasting no time at all while marveling at all the shiny automobilia Huell was amongst, I wasted no time in googling up the Nethercutt’s website and making a reservation for a guided tour — and get this: it’s free.

Now I know… I know. You’re wondering what kind of catalytic converter have I been living under all my life!? You’ve been there six times, and are going back next week to check out the recently added 1956 Porsche! Well I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to to that apparently small minority of angelenos  who, like me, have absolutely  no clue. And to them I’m saying that for the love of all engines internally combusted, if you have even get the slightest wide-eyed when any kind of  classic car rolls past you on the street, then you’ve got to get yourself out to Sylmar and prepare for your jaw to drop at all the mechanized majesty. Many, many times.

Seriously, if you have any type of appreciation for the history and design and evolution of Ye Olde Horseless Carriage, you’ve got to go and check out this unparalleled and extensive array of meticulously restored vehicles. As I said, the collection is free, but tour reservations are required). So click here to check out my Flickr set of images (thumbnailed above) from my visit last Saturday, and then make plans to go get yer car on and get upclose and personal with these magnificent mobile works of fine art.

WHAT: The Nethercutt Collection
WHERE: 15200 Bledsoe Street, Sylmar, CA 91342
WHEN: Guided tours are Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10a.m. or 1:30p.m. (Reservations are required)
WEB: www.nethercuttcollection.org
NOTE: Directly across the street from the Nethercutt Collection is the Nethercutt Museum, housing a separate and more extensive group of vehicles. That’s open Tuesday – Saturday, 9a.m. – 4:30 p.m. It’s also free, but no reservation is required.

Historic “Moving Picture” Show

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a world without film. (I know!) Whatever did people do for fun on a Saturday night, aside from bathing? They would go see amazing spectacles called “Panoramas.” Starting in 1792, 360 degree paintings were installed in circular venues and you viewed them from the inside. Don’t tell James Cameron this, but they were even in 3d! Faux terrain elements were placed in front of the images to enhance the paintings themselves. Even Disney took a cue from this style and created CircleVision 360.

Another version of the Panorama experience was the Moving Panorama. Images were painted on huge panels and scrolled through in a theater accompanied by live narration, music and sound effects. The original Moving Picture Show!

What does this have to do with Los Angeles? LA is home to the Velaslavasay Panorama “an exhibition hall, theatre and garden dedicated to the production and presentation of unusual visual experiences, including those of the 360-degree variety.” They research and preserve fragile works of mass entertainment from centuries gone by. You can visit the gardens and exhibits during the day and for the next four weekends, you can see a Moving Picture Show.

Every Friday and Saturday night until August 21, The Velaslavasay Panorama will be showing “The Grand Moving Mirror Of California” a modern panel based on an 1853 script about the journey to get to California during the Gold Rush. Adventures around Cape Horn, views of historic California cities and “famous natural treasures” are part of the story.

This Saturday, July 31, is a fundraiser for the museum. You get a gourmet dinner before the showing of the Moving Picture and help raise funds for this fascinating non-profit. Click here for more details on that event.

The Velaslavasay Panorama
In the Historic Union Theater in the West Adams District
1122 West 24th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90007

Open to the public on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays from 12-6pm
Street parking only.

I’m buying tickets for Friday’s show…join in!

Cross section of a Panorama rotunda

Ack!! I totally forgot to add a Hat Tip to Los Angeles Magazine (August issue), which is where I first read about the Panorama!

LA Museums: In trouble? Got solutions?

So I (over)heard a conversation recently between some relatively high-powered ad-type people, and the topic was LA’s museums. And how they were suffering from record-low attendance. The situation was so dire, in fact, that these ad-type people were working with a cultural organization of some sort (I have no idea which one) to possibly create a giant ad campaign that would raise awareness about LA’s museums, and that would drive people back through the gallery doors.

Of course, this is all hearsay, and prudence requires I not go into detail about the idea or the campaign, but it did make me stop and think–why don’t (most) people go to museums any more? What could get people back in the door?

My first suggestion is to drop membership fees. I mean, I used to work at LACMA and even with my disturbingly detailed awareness of that institution’s holdings and the importance of its collections, I still don’t have a membership–let alone the Muse membership I wish I could afford, that would grant me access to all the museum’s coolest events.

Clearly LACMA’s hungry for members: just take a gander at all the carrots they’ve added in to this membership pitch I recently found in my inbox (click to embiggen). But in this economic climate, it’s unrealistic to expect folks to drop a cool $90 for the basic membership–and an additional $50 for Muse. Muse events, like their costume ball, Young Directors’ Night, Muse ’til Midnight and more–are designed to appeal to a younger, hipper crowd and innoculate the museum against the attrition caused by the rapid graying of its members; (click thru to continue)

Continue reading “LA Museums: In trouble? Got solutions?”