Southwest Museum of the American Indian

Coordinates: 34°06′01″N 118°12′21″W / 34.1004°N 118.2059°W / 34.1004; -118.2059
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Southwest Museum)
Historic Southwest Museum Mt. Washington Campus
SouthwestMuseum LosAngeles.jpg
Museum building as seen from Sycamore Grove Park
Former name
Southwest Museum of the American Indian
Established1907 (1907)
Location234 Museum Drive
Los Angeles, California
Coordinates34°06′01″N 118°12′21″W / 34.1004°N 118.2059°W / 34.1004; -118.2059
FounderCharles Fletcher Lummis
ArchitectSumner Hunt
Public transit accessL Line  Southwest Museum
Nearest parkingLimited free on-site parking
Architectural styleMission/Spanish Revival
NRHP reference No.92001270
LAHCM No.283
Significant dates
Added to NRHPMarch 11, 2004
Designated LAHCMAugust 29, 1984

The Southwest Museum of the American Indian is a museum, library, and archive located in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, above the north-western bank of the Arroyo Seco (Los Angeles County) canyon and stream. The museum is owned by the Autry Museum of the American West. Its collections deal mainly with Native Americans. It also has an extensive collection of pre-Hispanic, Spanish colonial, Latino, and Western American art and artifacts.

Major collections had included American Indians of the Great Plains, American Indians of California, and American Indians of the Northwest Coast. Most of those materials were moved off-site, but the Southwest Museum has maintained an ongoing public exhibition on Pueblo pottery, open free of charge.[1]

The Metro L Line stops down the hill from the museum at the Southwest Museum station. About a block from the L Line stop is an entrance on Museum Drive that opens to a long tunnel formerly filled with dioramas, since removed by the Autry Museum and placed in storage. At the end of the tunnel is an elevator to the museum's lower lobby.


Charles Fletcher Lummis, an anthropologist, historian, journalist, and photographer, 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, opened the Southwest Museum in 1907. The museum moved from Downtown Los Angeles to Mt. Washington in 1914.[2]

The 1914 building was designed by architects Sumner P. Hunt and Silas Reese Burns.[3] 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.[4]

In 2003 the financially teetering museum was absorbed by the Autry Museum which designated it as its Mt. Washington Campus.[5]

Following years of controversy with the Friends of the Southwest Museum and other local community organizations, the Autry began a partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the City of Los Angeles to develop a long-term plan for the site. On January 22, 2015, the Southwest Museum was designated a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[6][7] In March 2019 the Autry and the National Trust published a Request for Interest for the revitalization and reuse of the historic Southwest Museum campus and Casa de Adobe.[8]


One gallery is open to the public on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with events and exhibitions that may take place on other parts of the campus. Admission is free. Autry has moved and been conserving most of the original collection in a new state-of-the-art home in Burbank, with plans to open that in 2021.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Four Centuries of Pueblo Pottery". Autry Museum of the American West. 10 May 2016. Archived from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  2. ^ Vankin, Deborah (March 26, 2019). "Southwest Museum site is officially up for grabs". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Southwest Museum | Los Angeles Conservancy". Retrieved 2019-12-25.
  4. ^ Dan L. Thrapp (1991). Encyclopedia of frontier biography. University of Nebraska Press. p. 195. ISBN 0-80329-418-2.
  5. ^ Boehm, Mike. "Amid an epic dispute over the future of L.A.'s Southwest Museum, a new report sees hope". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  6. ^ Morris, Chris (January 22, 2015) "National Treasure Designation Officially Announced in Los Angeles" Archived 2015-01-23 at the Wayback Machine Press Release National Trust for Historic Preservation
  7. ^ Boehm, Mike (January 22, 2015) "National preservation trust tabs Southwest Museum a national treasure" Los Angeles Times
  8. ^ "Request for Interest: Historic Southwest Museum Campus and the Casa de Adobe". Autry Museum of the American West. 2019-03-20. Retrieved 2019-12-25.
  9. ^ "Research and Collections". Autry Museum of the American West. 2016-04-21. Retrieved 2019-12-25.

External links[edit]