Autry museum gallery renovations face hurdle: A City Council review
Charles Dickens had "A Tale of Two Cities," and Los Angeles has "A Tale of Two Museum Buildings" -- the Autry Museum of the American West in Griffith Park, and its sister site (some would say its stepchild), the historic, nearly 100-year-old Southwest Museum in Mount Washington (pictured).
The Autry National Center, which runs them both, acquired the Southwest and its prized collection of Native American artworks and artifacts in a 2002 merger. While the Autry sees the future unfolding at its Griffith Park headquarters, advocates of the Southwest, which is closed indefinitely, don't want it shunted aside.
A Los Angeles City Council decision on Tuesday raises the question once more of whether it's OK for the Autry to pursue renovation plans in Griffith Park that would carve out permanent exhibition space for some of the Native American artifacts while leaving the Southwest Museum in limbo.
In an unusual move, the council invoked its authority to review a May 20 decision by the Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners that would have let the renovations go forward.
Meanwhile, Autry president Daniel Finley says that in addition to trying to find a nonprofit partner to become a tenant at the Southwest Museum, as it has done since last year, the Autry is now willing to donate the building outright to another organization. The collection, however, would stay with the Autry and be shown in Griffith Park. The proposed gallery renovations, costing an estimated $8 million, would permit about 700 Native American works to be displayed.
-- Mike Boehm
Photo: Southwest Museum. Credit: Kirk McCoy/Los Angeles Times