Letters: Make the Southwest a true museum

Re "Revive the Southwest Museum," Editorial, Nov. 25

I am deeply disturbed by the Autry National Center's management of the Southwest Museum. Instead of returning the Southwest Museum to its former glory and mission, the Autry is treating it as if it were a resource.

The Southwest Museum deserves to remain a little gem. Its building is a unique treasure, an echo of old Los Angeles. As a second-generation Angeleno whose family has been here since 1900, I remember first going there in the fourth grade and having a great learning experience.

The Autry has the responsibility and the resources to fulfill its promise for the Southwest collection to be displayed in its original home. Just another cultural center would be just that: another cultural center — unneeded, amorphous and unspecific in its goals and functions.

The Autry has its own personality and mission, and it needs to stop treating the Southwest Museum like an unworthy stepchild while exploiting its collection.

Miriam Birch

Los Angeles

The Southwest Museum was an absolute icon in my earlier years living in northeast Los Angeles. It was a source of great pride because it housed the most extensive collection of Native American art and artifacts in the West, but it fell on hard times. The Autry museum got itself a bargain by taking over without fully restoring the building and its collection in Mount Washington.

Even at its height, the Southwest Museum had many of its treasures hidden from public view, so from a curatorial standpoint, the collection may be safer at the Autry.

But that should not prevent a significant restoration and upgrade of the historic site and a return of the best of the collection. And I don't mean doing it in bits and pieces but maintaining full-on public shows with as much on display as possible.

It is essential to the culture of Los Angeles that our oldest museum be granted continuing glory.

Jack Fenn

Montecito Heights


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