The Autry Files

July 8, 2020

What Is This Object? Episode 1

Collections / What Is This

Hosted by Joe Horse Capture , the Autry's Vice President of Native Collections and the Ahmanson Curator of Native American History and Culture, this new video series is part "Kids Say the Darndest Things," part history lesson. Horse Capture takes objects from the Autry's collections and asks kids what they think it could be. Hilarity and cuteness ensues. At the end of the video, he turns it over to an Autry expert to explain the history behind the object. Test yourself and see if you can figure it out before the big reveal. Read more

July 7, 2020

In Memoriam: Ennio Morricone

By: Ben Fitzsimmons, Associate Director, Programs and Research, and Josh Garrett-Davis, Gamble Associate Curator of Western History, Popular Culture, and Firearms

Ennio Morricone, who sadly passed away on July 6, scored over 400 films and television shows, but the Oscar-winning Italian composer is perhaps most famous for his collaboration with director Sergio Leone. Most film buffs can whistle the melody from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly , but we wanted to draw your attention to Leone's relatively unknown Giù la testa ( Duck, You Sucker! also known as... Read more

July 6, 2020

Tabletop Frontier: A Hand-Carved Model of a Mythic Old West Town


By: Josh Garrett-Davis, Gamble Associate Curator of Western History, Popular Culture, and Firearms

In the video below, the Autry’s Chief Conservator, Richard Moll, shows off a model frontier town carved by cowboy artist Gene Hoback. This meticulous creation is on deck to make its debut at the Autry in our renovated popular culture exhibition in the Ted and Marian Craver Imagination Gallery . This core exhibition will explore how the West has been imagined in many types of media—... Read more

July 6, 2020

Griffith Park Yarnscape 6: How to Crochet a Red-tailed Hawk

DIY / Exhibitions

Have you had enough passive screen-time and want to make something with your hands, maybe learning a new skill in the process? Join us in contributing to a gallery display of Griffith Park in crochet, with the help of these how-to videos.  

As part of our exhibition Investigating Griffith Park we’re inviting the Autry community to make pieces to represent various aspects of the park, from nature to recreational activities, and mail them into the Autry (or drop them off in person once the... Read more

June 29, 2020

Western Music Association Digital Showcase

Since 2002, the local chapter of the Western Music Association has regularly gathered at the Autry to play together, entertaining visitors with their performances and passion. Members of the WMA submitted these videos for a digital showcase of their music during a time when we are unable to gather to hear them live. Some performances were recorded before the “Safer at Home” restrictions while others were filmed specially for this compilation.

The Western Music Association was established in 1988 to encourage and support the preservation, performance and composition of historic,... Read more

June 25, 2020

Route 66 Women: The Untold Story of the Mother Road

Revealing Women in the Archives

By Katrina Parks, Filmmaker

Internationally, Route 66 is viewed as an expression of something uniquely American—a blend of freedom, the open road and adventure. Signs for the highway can be found all over Europe and Asia, and the myth of Route 66 draws hundreds of thousands of people to make their own journey every year. However, the actual experience of traveling and living along the Mother Road has always been greatly impacted by race and gender. From the Spicer family traveling from California back to the South on Route 66 to the Sakatani family during WWII, and the women who... Read more

June 23, 2020

How the Character of Coyote Helped Artist Harry Fonseca Come Out

Exhibitions / Native Communities

By Amy Scott, Executive Vice President and Marilyn B. and Calvin B. Gross Curator of Visual Arts

Harry Fonseca (Nisenan Maidu, Hawaiian, Portuguese, 1946–2006) was an instrumental force in reshaping Native art with his trademark blend of traditional imagery, contemporary experience, and vibrant color and form. As he used his art to explore both his personal journey and the role of history in shaping Native consciousness in the present, Fonseca sought to expand definitions of Indian art and to shatter the expectations and stereotypes that had long confined it.

Fonseca’s best... Read more

June 23, 2020

Beautiful Music and the Myth of the West


by Cheryl Miller, Head, Library Metadata and Discovery Services

Covers of sheet music in the Autry Collections highlight one way the Myth of the West became entrenched in American society. In her book Frontier Figures: American Music and the Mythology of the American West, Beth Levy notes “different brands of Western Americana were absorbed into American culture by way of sheet music, radio, recitals, and film.” In the 1890s, as the sheet music industry grew and publishers competed for sales, they hired artists to make beautiful covers. The introduction of offset presses put fancy... Read more

June 22, 2020

Digitizing a Century of Native Voice and Song at the Autry

Collections / Library and Archives / Native Communities

By Yuri Shimoda, CLIR Recordings at Risk Intern, Autry Museum of the American West

In September 2018, the Autry received a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Recordings at Risk grant to digitize hundreds of Native American songs, oral histories, field recordings, plays, and lectures captured on sound and audiovisual media from 1898 to 2007. The recordings were made across such a vast period of time that there were many different formats that needed to be digitized – from open reel tape, wire, and four types of discs to audiocassettes, CDs, and VHS tapes.

... Read more

June 12, 2020

The Autry's Collecting Community History Initiative: Black Lives Matter Protests in the West

The Autry's Collecting Community History Initiative / Collections

Images from the Los Angeles Black Lives Matter protests following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery. Images taken by Rob Liggins in Hollywood, CA., Compton, CA., and Downtown Los Angeles, CA. in May/June 2020.

By: Tyree Boyd-Pates, Assoc. Curator of Western History

Several months ago, the Autry launched our Collecting Community History Initiative (CCHI): The West During COVID-19 as a response to the growing desire to collect the diverse stories and objects that pertain to the... Read more