About Us

THE ISSUE: The vision of the merger of the Southwest Museum and the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum has not been achieved.

THE GOAL: Bring together parties who can envision and fund a revitalized Southwest Museum complex with enhanced exhibition space for ongoing, quality curation of its stunning collections. This vision would provide local communities and schools in NE Los Angeles access to a world class collection and cultural institution, available via public transit. Adjacent historic resources of the Living Museum further enrich the experience.  At the same time the Autry National Center could be showing non-competing exhibits from their core collection and the large Southwest Museum collection.

We are the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition

The Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition is an advocacy group.

Our Coalition formed in January 2003 as the Board of Directors of the Southwest Museum and the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum announced they were engaged in discussion of a merger of the two charitable corporations.

In early 2003, the California Attorney General’s consent to the proposed merger of the two corporations was delayed when our Coalition expressed concerns about the sincerity of promises made by the Gene Autry Museum to preserve and continue the Southwest Museum institution, operate it full time with a separate identity, exhibiting its collections, and restoring at its historic location for continued public service.

Upon written assurance given to the Coalition by Autry’s management, the Coalition, with some reservations, joined in support of the merger. As explained throughout this website with facts and supporting documentation, those promises and countless other public statements made by Autry management have been or are being broken.

The Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition, built upon the strong foundation of previous advocacy for preservation and continued operation of the City’s first museum, has rallied public support for restoring the National Register of Historic Places Southwest Museum site as a primary exhibition location for the vast and spectacular collections of the Southwest Museum.

We know this goal can be accomplished by thoughtful and caring foundations, major donors, and elected officials who have worked with us.

FSWM Coalition Accomplishments

Over the years since the merger, the Friends of the Southwest Museum has been active:

  • Organized and built a powerful grass roots advocacy organization that embraces the diverse cultures with a stake in the Southwest Museum site and its continued public service to underserved ethnic communities near the Southwest Museum. See Coalition partners
  • Created a compelling vision to ensure a long-lasting, vibrant future for the Southwest Museum
  • Raised significant funds to educate and empower important stakeholders concerned about the future of the Southwest Museum
  • Documented materially misleading financial statements that formed the rationale of the original merger
  • Analyzed and critiqued claims showing it is financially feasible to restore the original Southwest Museum to continued service. Independent Consultant Report
  • Worked to discourage one effort to completely absorb the Southwest Museum’s exhibitions into the Autry Griffith Park location, that would make the National Register of Historic Places Southwest Museum redundant
  • Marshaled historic architectural resources to articulate a vision and plans that include a public dialogue with funding agencies on how to restore the Southwest Museum
  • Worked with local elected officials to assure our voice and viewpoints were heard
  • Organized informational picketing when it was revealed that over $10 million of Federal Emergency Management Funds had been spent on the boxing of the Southwest Museum’s collection and minor seismic repairs to the building. Despite this investment of public funds, the museum is only open to the public one day a week for a few hours
  • Launched an exciting new design plan and a Living Museum Concept