Archived: Open Letter: Autry’s Closure of Southwest Museum Is the Latest Move to Kill Off L.A.’s First Museum


The revelation that Autry intends to quietly completely close the Southwest Museum to the general public on December 31st is the latest proof of Autry’s continued disrespect to our community, to the City of Los Angeles and to the history of the Southwest, said Nicole Possert, Chairperson for the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition.

In 2003, Autry merged with the Southwest Museum with the stated intent to save the Southwest Museum institution. In the ensuing seven years, Autry has done just the opposite. It has not complied with the legal merger agreement and Autry’s pattern of contrarian actions proves that they never intended to stay and continue to operate the first museum in Los Angeles.

This is the last stab in Autry’s “death by a 1,000 cuts” strategy to kill the first museum in Los Angeles and take for themselves the priceless Southwest Museum Collection. “Wake up Los Angeles. Our history is unnecessarily going away,” said Possert.

This news piles on top of more negative news and a financial red-flag alert. Autry recently returned $160,000 in scarce grant funds to the State of California that was to be used to waterproof the historic tunnel entrance to the Southwest Museum—the entryway with unique dioramas used by school children coming by bus and visitors using public transportation (Southwest Museum Metro Gold station and Metro Bus lines are immediately adjacent).

The Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition had originally supported that grant request and is alarmed by Autry’s actions of disinvestment in the promised rehabilitation of the Southwest Museum and our community.

“In light of Autry’s financial condition, this is a strange and illogical way to be a responsible steward and uphold their fiduciary responsibilities to the merger,” concluded Possert.

The Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition has watched, warned and worked to prevent this from occurring.  Self-labeled IMBY’s (In My Back Yard), the Coalition has worked to keep the Southwest Museum a key museum destination for Los Angeles.  It has proposed various win-win solutions including a modest expansion of the Mt. Washington site for more exhibition space, supported Autry’s artifact conservation efforts and fundraising activities for the rehabilitation of the Southwest Museum and Casa de Adobe.  Each time, Autry rejected the Coalition’s attempts at support and solutions.

Councilmember Jose Huizar’s office has been working with City staff to review funding options to keep the Southwest Museum open and requested a meeting with Autry to discuss any financing options. The Coalition strongly urges the Autry to meet with Councilmember Huizar and actively secure a solution to re-open the Southwest Museum as a museum to the public, as promised.

There is a trigger option, soon expiring on the Southwest Museum, allowing the Autry board to begin selling off parts or all of the priceless collection, including the two historic museums — the Casa de Adobe and the Southwest Museum.

The Autry letter returning grant funds and highlights of Autry’s actions are counter to the intent of the 2003 merger, and will be detailed and available on the front page of the Coalition’s website.

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1 Comment

  1. Well, if Jose Huizal has ANYTHING to do with this, are you sure he wouln’t love to see the demise of the Gene Autrey Museum? He probably has plans to build low-income housing in it’s place, so that he could give all the funding to his cronies at at East Los Angeles Community Corporation!

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