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Petersen Automotive Museum Employs Heavy-Handed California Theme for Annual Gala

The Petersen Automotive Museum celebrated its 15th birthday with a gala honoring Auto Club chairman Tom McKernan that was filled with references to Southern California.

Carpeting evocative of a highway at the Petersen Automotive Museum gala

Photo: Christophe Wu for BizBash

The Petersen Automotive Museum hosted its 15th annual gala on Thursday night, benefiting the museum's foundation, which funds field trips for L.A. school children between the institution and their schools. Auto Club chairman Tom McKernan picked up the Icon award for his years of service.

The museum’s director of special event sales, Kari Lusti, oversaw the gala, and put in place its California theme. “How do you honor the Petersen on its 15th anniversary [while] communicating our mission statement and also tying in the Auto Club? What we ended up [with] was 'California Dreaming.'” Decor tied in the glamour of Hollywood, as well as the coastal nature of California, highlighting Southern California’s tourism efforts through the Auto Club.

A walkway to the dinner area from the cocktail reception space featured black carpet with a broken white stripe, representing California’s highways. A beach-chic scheme using bright colors, patterned gobo projections in sunset hues, decorative vintage vehicles, and an elaborate stage set with multiple palm trees.

Catering tied in to the theme with multiple buffet stations featuring regional Californian dishes, and wait staff in tropical attire. Entertainment included Grammy-winning artist Brian Wilson, a former Beach Boy, along with his 10-piece band.


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