A Message From the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Autry National Center
W. Richard West, Jr.
Welcome! This year the Autry celebrates its 25th anniversary and continues its deep commitment to preserving the legacy, sharing the history, and giving voice to the diverse peoples of the West, past and present. What began as a vision of our passionate founders, Jackie and Gene Autry and Joanne and Monte Hale, is now a thriving museum that has welcomed millions of visitors from around the world since 1988.
The history of the American West has had an enduring impact on the creation of a great nation and its national heritage. The peoples who have occupied this space, in both triumph and tragedy, represent a rich tapestry of those who were here and those who came. These stories of place and people represent a profound convergence of cultures—the individual threads of meaning collectively are essential to knowing the past and present better and truer and are tellingly instructive about the future, not only of the American West but of a nation.
Autry exhibitions, lectures, film, music, festivals, and family programs illuminate the experiences and stories of the diverse places and people who are the art, history, and heritage of the American West. Our many public endeavors reflect the Autry’s own overall institutional intention to present the stories, historical and contemporary, of the American West in their manifold, indeed, almost infinite complexity.
The Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale launches the year, featuring the stylistically and thematically diverse works of more than 75 nationally recognized, contemporary Western artists. Later in our anniversary year, the Autry will present a number of new exhibitions as well as renovated galleries that will further highlight the Autry’s stunning collections in innovative and groundbreaking ways, including Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic, Art of the West, Western Frontiers: Stories of Fact and Fiction, and Four Centuries of Pueblo Pottery.
We invite you to enjoy lively educational programs, join as an Autry member, vote in “The People’s Choice: The Top 25 Objects” contest, and sign up for Autry e-blasts for anniversary-year updates. In the fall, we’ll toast at our annual gala and open our doors for a weekend-long community celebration. In addition, throughout the year, we’ll be asking you to share your stories and experiences of the West.
As the Autry heralds the next quarter century, it builds, amplifies, and articulates its role and impact in a city, state, and region that are experiencing change at lightning pace. That change redefines how people and communities understand individual and collective identity, history, and heritage. More than ever before, the Autry presents these defining stories through diverse lenses and the inclusion of many voices and points of view. The weave of those stories together creates an illuminating context for the changes that are occurring, as well as new insights into this seminal journey’s direction and content, past, present, and future. Join us on that important and telling path of exploration and discovery.
W. Richard West, Jr.