Southwest Museum of the American Indian

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Southwest Museum
SouthwestMuseum LosAngeles.jpg
Southwest Museum from Sycamore-Grove Park
Location 234 Museum Dr
Mt. Washington, Los Angeles, California
Coordinates 34°06′01″N 118°12′21″W / 34.1004°N 118.2059°W / 34.1004; -118.2059Coordinates: 34°06′01″N 118°12′21″W / 34.1004°N 118.2059°W / 34.1004; -118.2059
Governing body private
NRHP Reference # 92001270
LAHCM # 283
Significant dates
Added to NRHP March 11, 2004
Designated LAHCM August 29, 1984

The Southwest Museum of the American Indian is a museum, library, and archive located in the Mt. Washington area of Los Angeles, California. It is part of the Autry National Center. Its collections deal mainly with Native Americans. However, it also has an extensive collection of pre-Hispanic, Spanish colonial, Latino, and Western American art and artifacts.

Major collections include rooms devoted to 1) American Indians of the Great Plains, 2) American Indians of California, and 3) American Indians of the Northwest Coast.

Public transportation is available, such as the Metro Gold Line, which stops down the hill from the museum at the Southwest Museum station. About a block from the Gold Line stop, there is an entrance on Museum Drive that opens to a long tunnel formerly filled with dioramas, since removed by the Autry Museum and stored in an undisclosed location. At the end of the tunnel, there is an elevator that ascends to the lower lobby of the Museum. Parking is available up the driveway in a large lot level with the upper section of the Museum with a spectacular view of the area.


Charles Fletcher Lummis was an anthropologist, historian, journalist, and photographer who created the Southwest Society, which was the western branch of the Archaeological Institute of America. He gained the support of city leaders, and with the financial backing of attorney Joseph Scott and opened the Southwest Museum in 1907. The museum moved from Downtown Los Angeles to its current location in Mt. Washington in 1914, and has been there ever since.

The 1914 building was designed by architects Sumner P. Hunt and Silas Reese Burns. Later additions to the museum include the Caroline Boeing Poole Wing of Basketry (completed 1941), by architect Gordon B. Kaufmann, and the Braun Research Library (1971), by architect Glen E. Cook.

Frederick Russell Burnham, the highly decorated military scout and father of the international scouting movement, was an early president.[1]

Current Status[edit]

The building is currently being used for conservation work of the collection. Only a small portion is open to the public on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Autry has a goal of moving most of the collection to a new state-of-the-art home.[2] Plans call for the infrastructure improvements to the Southwest Museum to be completed by 2013.[3] The Friends of the Southwest Museum continue to press the Los Angeles City Council and the board of the Autry Museum to reopen the entire facility to the public with changing exhibitions in order to fulfill the promises Autry made in the 2003 Merger Agreement. On January 22nd, 2015 the Southwest Museum was designated a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[4][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dan L. Thrapp (1991). Encyclopedia of frontier biography. University of Nebraska Press. p. 195. ISBN 0-80329-418-2. 
  2. ^ Boehm, Mike (December 18, 2009) Southwest Museum of the American Indian store is closed Los Angeles Times
  3. ^ Autry National Center of the American West Official website
  4. ^ Morris, Chris (January 22, 2015) "National Treasure Designation Officially Announced in Los Angeles" Press Release National Trust for Historic Preservation
  5. ^ Boehm, Mike (January 22, 2015) "National preservation trust tabs Southwest Museum a national treasure" Los Angeles Times

External links[edit]