Update on Southwest Museum*: The head of the Autry National Center, which operates the Mt. Washington museum, said the Southwest Museum gift shop will be closed at the end of the year and many of the remaining events and tours will be limited primarily to museum members. Much of the museum exhibition space has already been closed off to the general public as the staff works to restore and catalog its collection of Native America artifacts. News of the bookstore closure and reduction in public access first surfaced this weekend after Autry executive director John L. Gray made the surprise announcement at the annual holiday gathering of Southwest Museum docents, according to a post by docent Michale Wyman on the NELA List:

“With this action, the Southwest Museum is now officially a storehouse
and conservation site, nothing more. Mr. Gray stated that it would not open again for at least three years and perhaps longer pending need.”

But Gray said the Autry remains committed to reopening the museum as a cultural center with a mix of educational and exhibition spaces.

Gray’s announcement comes several months after the Autry dropped its plans to expand its Griffith Park museum over the city’s demand that it agree to run the Southwest in Mt. Washington as a full-fledged museum. The decision to cutback public access to the Southwest was denounced by Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition, which has been battling the Autry over the future of the Mt. Washington landmark.

“The revelation that Autry intends to ‘quietly’ completely close the Southwest Museum to the general public on December 31st is the latest proof of Autry’s continued disrespect to our community, to the City of Los Angeles and to the history of the Southwest,” said coalition chairperson Nicole Possert.

The Southwest gift shop needed to be closed to expand the restoration space needed to prepare for an upcoming exhibition on beads, said Yadhira De Leon. The museum still plans to hold regular events and lectures for its members at the Southwest but it’s still not clear whether it will still host such public events as community art openings or its Let’s Make History workshops for kids and families, de Leon said.

* Update: de Leon provided the following information about upcoming programs and events at the Southwest:

“Here are a few of the upcoming events at the Southwest Museum. They will take place on the third Saturday of every month. The calendar is not finalized yet so these are the only events I have confirmed:

January 23 Surprising Discoveries Inside the Braun Library
February 27 Behind the Scenes Tour — Southwest Museum
March 20 A View From the Braun Lecture Series — Paul Apodaca, Archaeo-astronomy

We will be participating in Lummis Day and MOTA Day and I see something about a Native American book club being formed but the details have not been flushed out. The NELA art nights will move to the Casa de Adobe but I do not have a list of artists or hours of visitation yet. The Junior Docents will continue their work at the Casa as well. Some events will take place at the Autry in Griffith Park including the SCIC Film Festival and a Southwest Museum lecture series.”

Photo from Friends of the Southwest Museum web site

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