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Photos: Natural History Museum's Automobile Collection Opens to the Public

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The Natural History Museum in Exposition Park is known for it collections of dinosaurs and mammals, for its exhibits about history and Native Americans and for interactive opportunities like the Spider Pavilion. In L.A.'s Miracle Mile, the museum operates the famous La Brea Tar Pits.And in the Santa Clarita Valley, they operates silent cowboy film star William S. Hart's former home and ranch. Now another facility is gearing up to open to the public on a limited basis.

Starting Friday, the museum's collection of 63 historic cars and motorcycles will be open to the public once a month in a behind-the-scenes tour of its storage facility in Gardena. Ranging from 1900 to 1984, automobiles on display include a 1902 Tourist (produced by the first car manufacturing company in Los Angeles), a 1932 Duesenberg (the body of this glamour car was designed and manufactured in Pasadena), a 1909 Case steam traction engine used in a San Fernando Valley orange grove, the 1984 Buick convertible used as the Olympic Torch Relay Car in the L.A. summer games, and a 1908 Pierce Great Arrow, which sits in original and unrestored condition.

Some of the vehicles have been displayed on a rotating basis at the Petersen Automotive Museum.

The rare one-hour guided tours are already sold out for October and November and December is going fast. To make a reservation e-mail cars@nhm.org or call (213) 763-3218. Costs are $10 for general public; $8 for NHM members; free for NHM Fellows and employees. Visitors must be 16 years of age or older.