Autry Museum Caps $80M Fund Drive, Will Open New Resources Center

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Autry Museum of the American West has completed a six-year, $80 million fund drive that will enable it to build a new state-of-the-art resource center at its Griffith Park campus, museum officials said today.  

The 100,000-square-foot research and collections-care facility will eventually house more than 600,000 objects, artworks and cultural materials of the Autry and the Southwest Museum of the American Indian.  

“An essential part of the Autry, the resources center will make art, artifacts and archival materials available for exhibitions presented by the Autry and cultural partners at multiple locations — vastly increasing public access to the expansive collections and informing thinking about the past, present, and future of our region,” the Autry said Tuesday in announcing the successful end of the funding drive.  

The “Challenge, Discover, Celebrate” campaign was launched in 2016 under then-President and CEO Rick West, who guided the drive until his retirement last June.  

His successor, Stephen Aron, said the campaign also helped the Autry navigate “an especially precarious moment in our history, enabling the museum to fulfill its important mission during this time of global uncertainty.”  

“We also want the Autry to matter more to more people, and this funding has put us on the path to do just that,” Aron said.  

Said West, “When my team and I began the journey of the `Challenge, Discover, Celebrate’ campaign, it was with the intent of expanding and positioning the museum as a lively public forum, increasingly needed in today’s polarized civil society.  

“Opening the resources center as a site of research, collections care and repatriation (of Native American cultural materials) helps welcome, more centrally, our Native communities to this circle. As Ambassador, Native Communities, I am honored to extend this welcome to Native peoples across Los Angeles and beyond.”  

The campaign got a major boost from a $30 million matching pledge by Jackie Autry, who along with co-founders Gene Autry and Joanne and Monte Hale, founded the museum in 1988.  

Jackie Autry delivered the final $25 million of her pledge at the end of 2021 — enabling the museum to fully pay off construction costs of the new resources center, the museum said.  

Other major support came from Autry trustees, along with foundations, companies, and a 34% increase in individual gifts year-over-year, compared with the period before the initiative, according to the museum.  

“The importance of the work of the resources center cannot be overstated,” said David Cartwright, board chair and an Autry trustee.  

“Beyond serving as a site of scholarship and collections care, this facility will help the Autry honor and enhance its ongoing commitments to Native communities across California and the West, including the repatriation of Native cultural materials from the collection,” he added. “As with many museums, the Autry has much work yet to do in this area, and we see the opening of the resources center as a crucial step in this effort.”

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