Southwest Museum of the American Indian

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Southwest Museum
SouthwestMuseum LosAngeles.jpg
Southwest Museum from Sycamore-Grove Park
Location234 Museum Dr
Mt. Washington, Los Angeles, California
Coordinates34°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
NRHP reference #92001270
LAHCM #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 area of Los Angeles, California. It is part of the Autry Museum of the American West. 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 had included 1) American Indians of the Great Plains, 2) American Indians of California, and 3) American Indians of the Northwest Coast. Most of those materials were moved off-site, but The Southwest Museum has maintained an ongoing public exhibit on Pueblo pottery that is free of charge.[1]

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 placed in storage. At the end of the tunnel, there is an elevator that ascends to the lower lobby of the Museum.


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.[2]

In 2003 the financially teetering museum was absorbed by the Autry Museum which designated it as its Mt. Washington Campus.[3]

Current Status[edit]

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 2019.[1] 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 22nd, 2015 the Southwest Museum was designated a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[4][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "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. ^ Dan L. Thrapp (1991). Encyclopedia of frontier biography. University of Nebraska Press. p. 195. ISBN 0-80329-418-2.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ Boehm, Mike (January 22, 2015) "National preservation trust tabs Southwest Museum a national treasure" Los Angeles Times

External links[edit]