The FSWM Coalition has brought to the table a feasible, affordable, and exciting plan developed by one of the nation’s premiere design firms that specializes in rehabilitation of historic concrete buildings: PLUM Architects of San Francisco, PLUM’s local representative, Louisa van Leer, has developed a set of architectural plans to open up exhibition spaces of the Southwest Museum that have never been seen by the public.

PLUM’s plan calls for the removal of non-historic elements on the uphill side of the museum building and the construction of a multi-level glass and metal loggia [a roofed and open gallery] and a complementary tower that solves ADA and open access challenges that have dogged the 1914 building since its opening 100 years ago. The expanded exhibition space available for museum programming would reach 21,000 square feet – a set of spaces the would help the Autry National Center fulfill its promise to expand exhibition of the Southwest Museum’s enormous collections to the world.

Proposed new Southwest Museum

Artist’s rendering and images for one of the options for a new Southwest Museum

The programming vision for the revitalized Southwest Museum includes converting one level of the Caracol Tower and adjoining front plaza into a dining café with spectacular views of the San Gabriel mountains, downtown’s skyscrapers, and even Catalina Island. Another modification of the Caroline Boeing Poole Wing would create a children’s learning center that overlooks the oak and black walnut woodland outside the north side of the building.

Welcome to the Living Museum

An exciting new vision for the Southwest Museum

Development could be phased in two parts.  PLUM Architects and professional construction cost estimators have pegged the estimated design, construction, hard and soft costs at $55 million.  If the City of Los Angeles can raise and spend $95 million to renovate and expand the beloved Griffith Observatory, the City and major foundations, led by a partnership between the Autry National Center, the City, and support groups such as the FSWM Coalition, should be able to secure excitement and funding to return the City’s first museum to deliver not just the same service as before, but one that is better.

Southwest Museum vision

Floor plans for the FSWM’s vision of a revitalized Southwest Museum