Friends of the
Southwest Museum


Scott Rubel, ASNC Liaison

Friends of Southwest Museum
Coalition meeting


Thursday, July 12th, 2007

Ramona Hall
4580 N Figueroa St
Highland Park


• Lummis biographer, Mark Thompson,
American Character

• Slides of Lummis locations
and new insights

• EIR process for Griffith Park
"Autry National Center Improvements"
(129,000 sq. ft. increase)

• Power-point of "Win-Win"
Garavaglia alternative

• Mystery Guest

• Lawn Signs

• Volunteer for Outreach



Southwest Museum Coalition: CM Huizar's Meeting with Leadership

This week the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition proved our effectiveness as a true coalition and we are stronger than ever. A brief report back to the community about the meeting that was convened by Councilmember Huizar concerning the Southwest Museum:

Councilmember Huizar invited the various organizations that comprise the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition to a meeting this past Wednesday evening so that he could hear directly from the leadership of each individual organization, their concerns, views, and vision concerning the future of the Southwest Museum.

The Coalition would like to acknowledge and thank the Councilmember for his leadership and for reaching out to see and hear first-hand the united stance our communities (both local and nationwide) have concerning this issue. I was humbled by the sheer presence of community and city leadership gathered in one place to which all the credit goes to the Councilmember and his hard working staff for orchestrating. Please take the time to thank the Councilmember!

Over 50 (fifty) organizations sent leaders to the meeting which certainly dispels any notion that this coalition might be a “paper tiger.” Each organization representative stood and gave their organization’s perspective for about 2 minutes. Support was unwavering for continued use as a museum to display and interpret the Southwest Collection. The Coalition’s positive vision for an historically sensitive rehabilitation/ expansion and better economic utilization of the Southwest Museum site was overwhelmingly preferred to Autry’s diminished, vague change-of-use plans that are currently unfunded. This Coalition vision, dubbed the “Alternative Plan,” is a win-win solution. Take a look at a new color illustration that was developed after the Alternative Plan was unanimously endorsed at our last public Coalition meeting (

Many organizations expressed their encouragement for the Councilmember and the Mayor to take an even more active and aggressive role in securing the goals articulated by this plan – creating an enhanced and viable museum destination for Los Angeles. The eloquence and support shown by each of the individual organizations was a powerful statement of what the collective Coalition represents.

The only point of departure was when individuals representing three of the organizations presented positions that appeared to be at odds with the currently adopted positions of their respective organizations. I am sure this situation will be clarified and corrected in the near future.

This confusion might be due to the nature of the conceptual plan. The Coalition has not changed our original and long-held position. We created a vision that would accommodate and address Autry’s stated needs for a cultural/education center merged with the uses that our Coalition members voiced overwhelming support for as a viable museum destination. It’s a starting point not the ending point for a proactive and positive solution.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Councilmember Huizar vowed to continue and increase his efforts on this high priority issue. He indicated that he will be meeting with the Autry in the next few weeks. The Councilmember’s meeting created a renewed energy of collaboration and support from each organization to working for a dynamic and vibrant Southwest Museum in Northeast Los Angeles. Charles Lummis’ vision for a museum of and for history, art and cultures of the diverse people’s of the Southwest is alive and well.

A few other major updates of note outside of this very productive meeting:

-- We’ve added a slew of new organizations in the recent weeks who are committed to the issue. We continue to grow as the story of the Southwest Museum’s peril gets out to a wider and wider audience.

-- The Los Angeles Conservancy sent a letter (dated June 12th) to Autry … “We have always seen room for additional development on the historic museum site and find that Garavaglia’s proposal [the Coalition’s] sensitively addresses many of the deficiencies found there today.”

-- Assemblymember Anthony Portantino’s June 7th letter to the Autry Board asks: “I respectfully urge your sincere consideration for the alternate expansion plans of the Southwest Museum, retaining the museum in its original Northeast Los Angeles location.”

We’ve done and will continue to do everything we can -- respond positively to Autry and other critics on the merits of the issue, support Autry’s substantial efforts to address the Southwest Collection’s needs, support Autry in securing much of the public money now being used to study/stabilize either the Collection or the historic buildings, create a positive vision that provides a win-win solution that invests in Northeast Los Angeles.

Chair, Friends of SWM Coalition



Tuesday, October 3rd there will be a meeting of the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition. 7 p.m. at Ramona Hall (4580 N. Figueroa).

After last week's conclusion of the City-hosted public process, it is time for our Coalition to meet. We would like everyone's thoughtful reaction or comments pertaining to the future "plan" outlined by Autry at the meeting last week at Franklin and the discuss next steps for our Coalition.

For those who were not able to attend the meeting, Autry has a new website that would contain all the information presented to the public --
There was a powerpoint presentation by Mr. Gray and two informational videos, which as of this morning aren't yet posted.



Autry Nat'l Center Presents SW Museum Vision, 9/19 at Franklin High

Eliot Sekuler, ASNC Liaison

The City of Los Angeles appears to have placed the future of the Southwest Museum back into the hands of the Autry National Center, abdicating an activist role that included moderating five recent "public input" meetings and mediating a half-dozen City Hall sit-downs between community representatives and Autry lawyers and executives.

The City's Human Relations Commission has announced that Autry executives will discuss their vision for Mount Washington's Southwest Museum at a public meeting scheduled for 7:00 PM, Tuesday, September 19 at the Franklin High School Auditorium, 820 N. Avenue 54. The Commission's executive director, Rabbi Allen Freehling, will serve as moderator for the meeting.

No representatives of the community, the Southwest Museum Coalition, or other parties to the ongoing discussions regarding the Museum have been invited to take a formal role in the discussion.

Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition urges your participation this Tuesday. Over 7,000 of you took the time to submit written comments, send a postcard, and/or sign our petition …. Did Autry Listen to YOUR comments?

Autry and LA Human Relations Commission have scheduled a public meeting. The announcement states: “Autry is now prepared to discuss their ideas of how to incorporate the public comments into a vision for the Southwest Museum.”

Our analysis of the public comments: overwhelming support for a vibrant MUSEUM in the historic Southwest Museum/Casa de Adobe. Please read many of the wonderful comments from our members:

This is a pivotal meeting – your ATTENDANCE is necessary to:
-- Help Save the Historic 12-acre Location
-- Prevent the transfer of museum artifacts to unknown Locations
-- Demand Autry be Accountable to its Promises
-- Ensure the public’s opinion is not dismissed

Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2006
7:00 p.m. at Franklin High Auditorium
(820 N. Avenue 54 in Highland Park)

This is probably the only public forum that we’re going to get to discuss the future of the Southwest Museum and Casa de Adobe with the Autry.

If you‘ve been thinking about getting involved in the single most important issue of LA history -- the merger between the Gene Autry and Southwest Museum -- this is THE meeting to attend.

For additional information regarding the meeting, or to express your thoughts on the city's role in the Autry's "public process," the City has directed callers to Gary De La Rosa or Patricia Villasenor at 213-978-1660.


SW Museum: The Community Mourns
Eliot Sekuler, ASNC Liaison

- pictures:

Sunday, July 16 -- Los Angeles mourned the death Saturday of the Southwest Museum—the city's' oldest museum—with a morning funeral procession from the MTA Gold Line Southwest Museum station to the gates of the museum and an evening candlelight vigil beginning at Sycamore Grove Park and proceeding to the corner of Marmion Way and Museum Drive.

Over 150 "mourners" particpated in the two events.

The “Day of Mourning” was organized by an ad hoc group of Northeast Los Angeles community residents with the support of the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition and other community organizations. The events were held in recognition of the museum's closure by its owner, the Autry National Center, without an effective plan for reopening as a public destination with a museum use.

Community residents expressed outrage at claims of the Autry National Center—which acquired the historic Southwest Museum three years ago-- that the museum“remains open,” when all but a store and two small galleries are available to the public two days per week.

Participants at the events demanded that any expansion of the Autry National Center's operations at Griffith Park be tied to the Autry's assumption of responsibility for maintaining and operating the Mount Washington facilities in a museum capacity.


ASNC Joins "Day of Mourning" for SW Museum, 7/15

The Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council has resolved to join the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition in observing Saturday, July 15 as a "Day of Mourning" to mark the Southwest Museum's closure and will participate with the Coalition in a Funeral Ceremony--to begin at 10 am-- at or near the Southwest Museum Gold Line Station and proceed to the Museum's doors.

Members of the community and friends of the Museum are invited to participate. Tongva puppets created by the Arroyo Arts Collective, Aztec dancers and other visual/symbolic elements will featured as part of the "Funeral" ceremony.

The ASNC also endorses the Candlelight Vigil scheduled for 8pm the same day, beginning at Sycamore Grove Park and continuing to the the doors of the Museum.

The following is the text of the resolution adopted by the ASNC at the Council's July 6 board meeting:


Whereas, The Southwest Museum of the American Indian has served as a cultural icon of our neighborhood, for the City of Los Angeles and as an important educational resource for our children since opening at its present location in 1914, and,

Whereas, its closure for a lengthy “restoration process” renders its unusable to school children and, in particular, to the students of the Arroyo Magnet School and,

Whereas, the Museum's current owners—the Autry National Center—have been unwilling to commit to a funding plan for the Southwest Museum, have resisted community efforts aimed at retaining the institution as a museum, are in the process of removing its priceless collection from our neighborhood and have advanced plans to “re-purpose” the building despite the clearly expressed wishes of the community,

The Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council supports community efforts to declare Saturday, July 15 as a“Day of Mourning” for the Southwest Museum and declares its support for ceremonies planned on that day by the Southwest Museum Coalition, by the parents of the Arroyo Magnet School and other community groups.

The Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council asks that Mayor Villaraigosa and all members of the Los Angeles City Council intercede on behalf of Los Angeles' oldest museum by demanding that the Autry National Center make a written commitment to the retention of the Southwest Museum as the primary exhibitor of the artifacts from the Lummis Collection and,

The Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council requests that a full Environmental Impact Report be sought before permissions be granted for the Autry National Center's planned expansion at its Griffith Park location.

“Funeral Ceremonies” will be held at 10:00 am this Saturday (July 15) for the Southwest Museum with, pallbearers, Aztec dancers, Tongva Native American puppets (created by the Arroyo Arts Collective) and mourners taking part in a procession from the Southwest Museum Gold Line station to the gates of the museum.

The Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition, supported by the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council and other community groups, will mourn the demise of L.A.'s oldest museum, closed for long-term “repairs” by new owners, the Autry National Center, while its priceless collection is removed for eventual display in a new Griffith Park facility.

Members of the community are urged to participate in this event (and in the Candlelight vigil to be held at 8:00 pm that evening at Sycamore Grove Park). The ceremony will start at MTA's Southwest Museum Gold Line Station, 4600 Marmion Way and will proceed one block to pedestrian gates of the Southwest Museum, 234 Museum Drive.

Elected officials are also invited to attend.

Please click here to see ASNC's Letter to the Mayor


Eliot Sekuler, ASNC Liaison