Southwest Museum with palms

Photo by Martha Benedict 

Mount Washington —  The owner of the historic Southwest Museum  today said it is looking for another organization to run the place — the most recent effort to revive the 12-acre hillside property.

The Autry Museum of the American West, which took over the Southwest in 2003,  said it was “seeking organizations to propose innovative and financially sustainable concepts,” in a statement issued today.

In addition to the Southwest, founded by Charles Lummis in 1913, the Autry also wants to unload the Casa de Adobe, a 1917 replica of a rancho located near the museum on Figueroa Street.

“I am deeply committed to identifying an exciting future for the Southwest Museum site and the Casa de Adobe,” said W. Richard West, Jr., President and CEO of the Autry. “We are eager to hear from parties who can bring renewed energy, imagination, and resources to this project.”

In a statement, the Autry said it was open to proposals from a wide range of interests, from arts organizations and education institutions to historic property developers and private businesses. 

“Respondents, including potential new owners/operators, are encouraged to consider how multiple uses can be combined to create a vibrant and sustainable operation that brings value to Los Angeles,” said the museum.

The Autry has tried before to partner with others  to operate the Southwest while battling critics who claimed promises to run the facility as a full-fledged museum were never honored.

While the Autry has invested millions in the Southwest, the facility is closed for much of the year to the public and most of its valuable collection of Native American artifacts has been moved to a storage facility in Burbank.

Nearly a decade ago, the Autry said it was looking “to team up with partners to develop future programs suitable to the Southwest Museum site.”  At one point, Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district once included Mount Washington, approached Occidental College in Eagle Rock about taking over the Southwest. But that never came to pass.

In 2015, the National Trust for Historic Preservation was enlisted to help come up with a new plan to guide the future of the property. But apparently that effort never resulted in a workable solution.

The Autry said requests for proposals  to find new uses for the Southwest are due June 10.

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