AUTRY GRIFFITH PARK EXPANSION OPPOSED
Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition Enlists Villaraigosa's Support In Preventing
Development on City Land, Obtaining Autry's Commitment To SW Museum's Mt.
The Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition, an umbrella group representing over 75
organizations, will seek to block the Autry National Center 's plans for expansion in
Griffith Park and has sought the assistance of Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa in
preventing the Autry from further development on the city-owned property.
In a letter delivered to the Autry's board, the Coalition re-stated demands for legally
binding commitments to the continuing permanent operations of Mount Washington's
Southwest Museum of the American Indian, Los Angeles' oldest museum, as well as two
related institutions, the Braun Library and the Casa De Adobe, all acquired by the Autry
in a 2003 merger that allowed the Autry to assume control of the Southwest Museum's
of over 250,000 rare artifacts, artworks and objects of archaeological interest.
The Coalition has demanded that any further Griffith Park development be tied to the
Autry's obligatory assumption of responsibility to maintaining and operating the Mount
Washington facilities and asks that the Autry seek alternatives to the construction of its
proposed new 100,000 sq. ft. building. In re-stating their demands, The Coalition
members cited research conducted by three outside consultants, two commissioned by the
Autry and one by the Coalition. The findings of the three studies indicate that the
restoration, maintenance and continuing operation of the historic facilities can be
accomplished on a sound economic basis. The Southwest Museum is located within the
boundaries of Villaraigosa's Council District 14 and the Mayor-elect has continually
affirmed support for the Coalition's objectives of retaining the Southwest Museum as a
key cultural anchor for the City in Northeast Los Angeles . Addressing a public meeting
held during his recent election campaign, Villaraigosa backed the Coalition's goals and
vowed he would hold the Autry to commitments made by the Griffith Park museum to
the Mount Washington facilities at the time of the 2003 merger.
The Coalition's demands were detailed in a position paper delivered to the Autry board.
Text of that paper follows:
Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition
The Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition (hereafter “the Coalition”), which
represents 75 organizations with membership totaling in excess of 100,000 persons, takes
the following positions regarding the future of the historic Southwest Museum, the Braun
Library and the Casa de Adobe (collectively hereafter referred to as “the Mt. Washington
1. In recognition of the enormous investment of public funds to construct the Gold Line's
Southwest Museum station and because the Autry National Center (hereafter “ANC”)
pays only $1 per month rent for city-owned land at the Griffith Park site, the ANC Board
must make a legally-binding commitment to take responsibility for the Mt. Washington
Campus, in perpetuity, as a condition of developing any new facilities at the Griffith Park
2. The Coalition's strongly held position is that the Mt. Washington Campus must remain
as a museum and an on-going public destination. We recognize that other revenue
enhancements that encourage incremental public use may need to be added to the
museum component, such as a restaurant, amphitheatre, expanded retail, additional
parking and site rental for non-museum related events. Under no circumstances are these
other uses to be done as a replacement for the museums at the Mt. Washington Campus.
3. The ANC must officially recognize its post-merger legal and moral obligations to
maintain and revitalize both the Collection and the Mt. Washington Campus,
which play an integral role in the cultural and economic future of Los Angeles. Any
fundraising by ANC must include sustainable and equitable funding for the Mt.
Washington Campus and the Collection.
4. The Coalition rejects ANC's interpretation of the Brenda Levin Study. The Study
actually supports the view that the Mt. Washington Campus is economically feasible
(also corroborated by a peer-to-peer review commissioned by the Coalition). The
Coalition asks ANC to accept the Levin study as a basis for a real Master Plan.
5. The Coalition must take part in any decision-making process for future uses of the Mt.
Washington Campus. We insist that a comprehensive ANC Master Plan be developed
which includes the Mt. Washington Campus. ANC must adhere to its past agreements to
hold a public process as part of the Master Plan.
6. As part of the Master Plan process, ANC shall conduct a programmatic study that
details what ANC needs to fulfill its vision for the Mt. Washington Campus and the
Griffith Park site. This should include viable attendance goals for both locations.
7. The Mt. Washington Campus and its priceless art and artifacts (hereafter “the
Collection”) are vital resources to the City of Los Angeles . The Collection is an inherent
part of the Mt. Washington Campus and it shall remain culturally identified to it. ANC
cannot divest of the Mt. Washington Campus without the complete Collection being a
part of any such divestiture.
8. The Southwest Museum in Mt. Washington must be ANC's primary location for the
exhibition, for education and activities related to the Collection.
9. ANC must engage in consumer research, consistent with institutional standards and
foster the development of programs to enhance the continued public appeal at the Mt.
10. Innovative museum activities that present the Museum in a new dynamic way are
welcomed as long as they remain connected to -- or based upon – the Collection.
Successful, signature events on the Mt. Washington Campus must continue to be
presented. These include (but are not limited to) the Intertribal Marketplace, Las
Posadas, the annual rug sale and the Museums of the Arroyo Day.
11. Should there be an extension of the Southwest Museum in Griffith Park , the Mt.
Washington Campus shall be marketed as a distinct entity from the Griffith Park site. The
identity, content and programming of the Mt. Washington Campus must remain
consistent with the original vision of its founder, Charles Lummis.
12. ANC and the City of Los Angeles must perform due diligence in seeking other
options/sites for the proposed 100,000 sq. ft. facility at Griffith Park . Options explored
might include building on the Mt. Washington Campus as well as other cost-effective
alternatives including sites in the Northeast business corridors of Cypress Park , Eagle
Rock, Glassell Park and Highland Park.