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Your Guide to the Autry Museum

July 10, 2019

Building signage, Autry Museum of the American West.

So, you think you know the Wild West? Nearby the apartments for rent in Glendale, CA there’s a museum willing to put your knowledge to the test. The Autry Museum of the American West is a culmination of peoples and cultures preserved in time through various artifacts.

Inside its over 600,000 pieces rests the truth about how the west was formed, shaped, and became the place we know today. With three locations and plenty of exhibits, it’s worth seeing at least once while living here. So, here’s everything you need to know about the Autry.

What is the Autry?

Voted LA’s favorite museum by the Los Angeles Daily News Readers from 2014 to 2018, the Autry is clearly a crowd pleaser. This museum is filled with world-class galleries containing Native American art alongside cultural materials, historic firearms, paintings and more from the era of Western expansion. Visitors can take part in interactive exhibits as well as view classic film memorabilia and so much more.

The Autrey also hosts a number of public events and programs throughout the year. Lectures, films, festivals, and musical performances are just a few of the museum’s offerings. They also perform scholarship research, and educational outreach programs.

Inside the museum, you’ll find over 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts that make the Autrey one of the largest collections of Native American materials in the United States. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, Autrey meets strict standards and best practices while solidifying themselves as a core educational entity. Out of America’s 33,000 museums, only 1,075 hold this accreditation.

A Brief History

The goal of the Autry is to bring together and display the stories of all peoples of the American West. By connecting the past to the present, they aim to inspire a shared future. That’s been the case since 1988 when Jackie and Gene Autry co-founded the museum with Joanne and Monte Hale.

Their small collection included library holdings, art, cultural materials, and artifacts. This collection steadily grew, eventually leading the museum to merge with Women of the West in 2002 to incorporate the impact and diversity of women’s experiences on American West history.

By 2003, the museum found itself in financial straits. Collections and the building itself needed a significant investment to maintain proper care. Luckily, the Southwest Museum of the American Indian chose to merge with the Autry and once again expand this collection of the historical west. With the help of the new merger, the museum’s collection grew to 600,000 artifacts, artworks, and archival materials that now spanned the various cultures of the west and how these peoples interconnected to create history.

Today, the Autry spans three campuses in Los Angeles. The Autrey Museum in Griffith Park is the original, presenting a variety of special exhibitions and public programs. Between 150,000 and 200,000 individuals visit the museum annually.

The Historic Southwest Museum Mount Washington Campus is the oldest museum in Los Angeles, originally the building for the Southwest Museum of the American Indian. Named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic preservation in 2015, this museum was originally founded by Charles Fletcher Lummis.

Finally, there’s the Resources Center of the Autry. Currently under renovation, the structure will soon be a state-of-the-art, 100,000-square-foot resource center in Burbank designed to preserve collections for future generations through best practices and sophisticated environmental controls. Scholars, students, archeologists, and the public alike can experience the scope of the Autrey’s collections once it opens in 2020.

Unique Collections

With over 600,000 objects, the Autrey boasts some of the most intensive collection ever gathered of the American West. Jewelry, textiles, ceramics, firearms, and more create expansive displays that enrich the public’s understanding of both the historical and contemporary west as well as the peoples that lived there. Collections include:

  • California History
  • Native American
  • Environment and Western Resources
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Archaeology and Anthropology
  • Popular Culture

You can browse any of these collections via the museum’s website for a better idea of what the Autry has to offer visitors. There are also various collections out on loan that range from original Wild West screenplays to works of art and handmade goods. Once the Resources Center opens, the number of collections you can view will nearly double.

Hours and Admission

Each location has different hours of operation and costs of admission, with some even being free. Here’s the breakdown for each of the Autrey’s three spots to help you make the most of your trip.

The Autrey Museum in Griffith Park

You can enter the museum on Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Weekend hours start at the same time and close one hour later at 5 p.m. The museum is never open on Mondays. During those hours, you can also stop in at the Crossroads West Café for a meal. Guided tours are offered at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.

The cost of admission is free for Autry members. Non-members pay $14 for adults, $10 for students with current ID and seniors, and $6 for children ages three to twelve. All children under the age of three receive free admission. There are various Free Days throughout the year as well, sponsored by Wells Fargo.

Keep in mind that the main museum and all other locations are closed for the following holidays:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • President’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
  • and New Year’s Eve

Historic Southwest Museum Mt. Washington Campus

This museum is only open on Saturdays. You can view the collections here from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., always free of charge for admission. Parking is also free, but space is limited. This is where you’ll find the bulk of Native American works and artifacts.

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