Historic Southwest Museum Mt. Washington Campus
HOURS / LOCATION / ADMISSION
Open Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
234 Museum Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90065
The historic Southwest Museum Mt. Washington Campus is the site of the ongoing conservation initiative of the Southwest Museum collection. In 2015, the landmark site was named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Four Centuries of Pueblo Pottery features more than 100 pieces of rare ceramics from the Autry’s Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection. This exhibition traces the dramatic changes that transformed the Pueblo pottery tradition in the era following sixteenth-century Spanish colonization to the present.
Highlights From the Southwest Museum Collection, an exhibition featuring selected ceramics and archeological artifacts, is on view in the lower-level lobby.
Braun Research Library
The community garden overlooks the Arroyo Seco and features native California plants. Join UCLA students and SCIC/American Indian Family Partnership staff Saturdays,10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m., to learn about gardening and healthy living.
Map and directions
234 Museum Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90065-5030
The historic Southwest Museum Mt. Washington Campus was founded as the Southwest Museum of the American Indian in 1907 by Charles F. Lummis and the Southwest Society (formed in 1903), the western branch of the Archaeological Institute of America. The Southwest Museum building was constructed between 1912 and 1914. Lummis worked with architects Sumner P. Hunt and Silas R. Burns to design the main museum building and the Caracol and Torrance towers. Lummis wanted the building to reflect Spanish culture and the Alhambra in Spain. The tunnel and elevator were added in 1919–1920 to provide easier access to the museum. In 1977 the Braun Research Library was constructed to house the ever-growing research collection, which had outgrown its space in the Torrance Tower.
The Southwest Museum is on the National Register of Historical Places at the national level, on the California Register of Historic Places, and both the Southwest Museum building and the Braun Library are listed as City of Los Angeles Historical Cultural Monuments. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has designated the historic Southwest Museum site a National Treasure.
The Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, the second largest collection of Native American objects in the United States, is widely regarded as one of the finest collections in the world. Artifacts range in age from prehistoric to the present, documenting Native history and culture in the Americas. Some of the earliest pieces in the collection include archaeological materials from museum- sponsored excavations, including those led by notable archaeologist and curator Mark Raymond Harrington. Other collection strengths include a stunning array of ceramics from the southwestern United States. Today, the Autry is committed to maintaining its stewardship responsibilities for this important collection by conserving these objects and ensuring their preservation for generations to come
The Autry’s Southwest Museum Preservation Project is a multimillion-dollar effort to inventory, preserve, conserve, and rehouse roughly 250,000 artifacts. We are currently focusing on the preservation of 157,000 artifacts that were specifically affected by the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Of those 157,000 artifacts, there are 9,000 ethnographic, 10,000 ceramic, and 138,000 archaeological objects.
Over the years, overcrowded storage rooms, poor climate controls, water leaks, pests, and dust imperiled the artifacts, advancing the deterioration of objects of great historic and educational value.
The Collections Management and Conservation team involved in the project works daily to safely rehouse and conserve each object. Our staff has established a process to preserve these artifacts, which consists of cleaning, condition reporting, photographing, stabilizing objects in fragile condition, storage mounting, housing, and mitigating pest activity, if necessary. Storage mounts are custom made and unique to individual objects, as the artifacts vary greatly in size, shape, material, and condition. The rehousing process helps ensure that objects maintain their present condition, whether they are being handled, moved, or stored.
Because of these preservation efforts, this culturally important collection can be accessed and shared with American Indian tribes, researchers, and the general public for many generations to come.