In a dramatic last-minute shift, Councilman Jose Huizar proposed a “prenuptial agreement” that would require the Autry National Center to renovate the Southwest Museum in Mt. Washington and operate it as a living museum as part of its lease agreement with the city for its planned expansion in Griffith Park.
It wasn’t clear that Huizar’s Solomon-like “splitting the baby” proposal fully pleased either of the warring parties.
The Autry took over the Southwest and its vast collection of artifacts of the Old West in 2003 at a time when the city’s oldest museum was in disrepair and had suffered years of mismanagement It has spent $7 million on repairs to the century-old facility and promised to restore it but refused to enter into a binding agreement.
Eastside activists have waged an intense campaign to block the Autry’s 79,,000 square-foot expansion that would more than double the size of its Griffith Park museum and demanded that the Southwest be fully restored and operated as the main site for display of the collection of 250,000 artifacts.
On Tuesday afternoon before an overflow crowd in the City Council chambers, the years-long fight came to a head before the five-member Board of Referred Powers.
“While I believe that the Autry is acting in good faith when it says it is committed to renovating the Southwest Museum, I think the community deserves to have a binding commitment in writing to ensure that they and future generations enjoy one of Los Angeles most treasured
cultural institutions,” said Huizar, who represents the area.
The board — Janice Hahn, Ed Reyes, Bernard Parks, Bill Rosendahl and Tony Cardenas — gave Huizar four weeks to negotiate the agreement with a firm timeline for the Southwest’s
Here’s a report from the meeting by OurLA.org writer Chris Rowe, a West Hills Neighborhood Council member:
At the start of the meeting, it was announced that Councilmember Huizar wanted to speak first. And the
feeling from the “Friends of the Southwest” was one of fear. Would this
Councilmember ask his colleagues to support the Autry.
was one of disbelief, Huizar spoke about a document signed by the
Autry that promised to protect both museums. He stated
that he wanted a ” Prenuptial Agreement” — a very finely crafted document that
was airtight that would protect the Southwest Museum and its contents from being
taken by the Autry for the purposes of creating the grander “Autry National
Center” at Griffith Park.
the EIR for the Autry – and nothing to do with the Southwest Museum. They
believe that what the future of the Autry is will have no negative impact on the
Southwest Museum at all.
of the renderings of the future museum in Griffith Park. Levin spoke
about how this beautiful modern museum of glass would blend with the
landscape and incorporate the most modern of designs that fit the concept of
“Green Building”. As she spoke about how this glass structure was more natural —
I was thinking: “How much more natural can you be than the adobe of the
favor of the expansion at the Griffith Park site.
the Autry. At least five representatives from different Native American groups said the Autry would be a place where more
small children would learn about their Native American cultures and the history
of these people and the missions in the area.
protect the Southwest Collection — to keep it at the Southwest intact. He said Levin had created a rendering of an expansion of the Southwest on
its current site prior to being hired to design the expanded
Autry. A great deal of fuss had been made about the many projects that Llevin had designed throughout the City.