Last month, the Autry Museum of the American West began its search for a partner organization to breathe new life into the Southwest Museum campus. They may find their answer in the form of Los Angeles County.
Tomorrow, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider a motion from Supervisor Hilda Solis which recommends that the County's Chief Executive Office, in coordination with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and Metro, evaluate and consider submitting a proposal to acquire the Southwest Museum site. Solis argues that acquiring and reinvesting in the Southwest Museum property would fall in line with the County's goal of increasing access to the arts, and notes that the Gold Line's Southwest Museum Station sits a short walk away from the campus.
"The legacy of the Southwest Museum is the beauty of American diversity, and it should continue to provide educational, cultural, and community benefits for generations to come," said Solis in a statement. "If there is a possibility that LA County and Metro could upgrade and manage this space in a financially-sustainable manner that benefits the local community and respects the history of Native Americans, we should explore that option.”
Located at 234 Museum Drive, the Southwest Museum originated in 1914 as the new home of the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, which relocated to Mt. Washington from its original location in Downtown Los Angeles. Situated upon 12 acres of land, the campus' original buildings were designed by Sumner Hunt and Silas Burns. Later additions were designed by architects Gordon Kaufmann and Glen E. Cook.
The Southwest Museum's merger with the Autry in 2003 allowed for another addition to the campus - the Casa de Adobe, a 1917 replica of a Spanish California Ranch on Figueroa Street. It is currently closed due to safety and accessibility issues.
The campus, listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historic Places, is currently open to the public once per week, on Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm.
The search for a new partner is being carried out in coordination with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and L.A. City Councilmember Gil Cedillo. The request for interest can be seen here.