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Great news for fans of valuable vehicles, historic roadsters, celebrity cars and exquisitely designed automotive machinery: After a year-long shutdown and a $125 million overhaul, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles reopened Dec. 6.

Hot Rod red with an overlay of 308 steel ribbon sections, the remodeled museum building was designed by architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, and is intended to convey speed and motion.

"I see the ribbons as aerodynamic slipstreams going around cars, and a signal that the museum is all about things that move." Petersen chief curator Leslie Kendall told CNBC.

Inside the building, three floors of themed galleries display automotive art and artifacts, as well as more than 100 vehicles, 23 motorcycles, a few scooters and a bobsled.

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There's also a driving gallery with 10 sit-down Microsoft Xbox Forza racing simulators, an interactive Pixar Car Mechanical Institute and (opening for tours in a few weeks) a storage vault with more than 125 vehicles.

The new and improved Petersen Automotive Museum is "among the most important auto museums in the country," said David Madeira, CEO of LeMay — America's Car Museum, in Tacoma, Washington.

"It complements other car museums in the world and doesn't compete or repeat," said Christian Overland, executive vice president for The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. "When it first opened in 1994, the Petersen looked at how you use cars and car culture, but now it also explores automobiles in term of artistic design and style."

— By Harriet Baskas, special to CNBC. Follow Road Warrior on Twitter at @CNBCtravel.
Posted 13 Dec. 2015

Photo: David Zaitz Photography