The county Board of Supervisors meeting this week may have been dominated by the unanimous approval of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s $650-million new home, but another agenda item hinted at a possible new future for the Southwest Museum.
The Autry Museum of the American West, which owns the Southwest Museum and cares for its collection of American Indian artifacts — is looking to transfer ownership of the 1914 museum site to someone who can update and reimagine it for “community benefit.” At the meeting Tuesday, Supervisor Hilda L. Solis offered a motion that the county, along with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, evaluate the possibility of acquiring the Southwest Museum, which sits near the Mount Washington-Highland Park border. The supervisors voted unanimously for those discussions to begin.
“For over 100 years, the Southwest Museum has offered incalculable historical and cultural benefits to visitors from around the world and the local community,” Solis said in a statement after the vote. She noted that L.A.’s oldest museum needs major renovations, but “with a major Metro Gold Line stop named after the museum a short walk away, the potential for a transit-supportive museum campus is tremendous, and would help ensure that arts and culture remain accessible to a larger audience.”
The office of county Chief Executive Sachi A. Hamai will submit a report to the board of supervisors in 30 days with a recommendation as to whether the county should submit a proposal to acquire the museum.
“The legacy of the Southwest Museum,” Solis said, “is the beauty of American diversity, and it should continue to provide educational, cultural and community benefits for generations to come.”