Southwest Museum Mt. Washington

Historic Southwest Museum Mt. Washington Campus

VISIT

Open Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
234 Museum Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90065
Free Admission 

TRANSPORTATION

Parking is free but limited. To arrive via public transportation, take the Metro Gold Line to the Southwest Museum Station, located near the intersection of Marmion Way and Museum Drive. Enter through the pedestrian tunnel entrance on Museum Drive.

At this historic site, some areas are fully accessible to wheelchair users; other areas may require assistance.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Go Metro and take the Gold Line to the Southwest Museum. Plan your trip on metro.net

ON VIEW

Four Centuries of Pueblo Pottery 

This exhibition features more than 100 pieces of rare ceramics from the Autry’s Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection. This exhibition traces the dramatic changes that transformed the Pueblo pottery tradition in the era following sixteenth-century Spanish colonization to the present.

A California icon and founder of the historic Southwest Museum, Charles Lummis was more than a collector: He participated in creating a national narrative of discovery and exploration. Through archaeological objects and associated photographs, maps, and archival materials, Making a Big Noise reveals stories about Lummis and his journeys, including his “Tramp Across the Continent”—a crosscountry trek from Ohio to L.A.—and his archaeological expeditions in New Mexico, Peru, and Mesoamerica.

Map and directions

Get directions from your location.

Mt. Washington

234 Museum Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90065-5030
T: 323.221.2164

About the Historic Southwest Museum Mt. Washington Campus

The historic Southwest Museum Mt. Washington Campus was founded as the Southwest Museum of the American Indian in 1907 by Charles F. Lummis and the Southwest Society (formed in 1903), the western branch of the Archaeological Institute of America. The Southwest Museum building was constructed between 1912 and 1914. Lummis worked with architects Sumner P. Hunt and Silas R. Burns to design the main museum building and the Caracol and Torrance towers. Lummis wanted the building to reflect Spanish culture and the Alhambra in Spain. The tunnel and elevator were added in 1919–1920 to provide easier access to the museum. In 1977 the Braun Research Library was constructed to house the ever-growing research collection, which had outgrown its space in the Torrance Tower.

For much of the 20th century, the museum welcomed visitors from around the world and remained an important part of the city’s cultural landscape. However, many years of financial challenges and low attendance led the Southwest Museum to merge with the Autry Museum in 2003. Following the merger, the Autry embarked on a comprehensive conservation program to save, preserve, and protect the important collections and identify a long-term, sustainable future for the historic site. 

The Southwest Museum building is on the National Register of Historical Places and the California Register of Historic Places. The campus is listed as a City of Los Angeles Historical Cultural Monument. 


AFTER THE MERGER

COLLECTIONS From 2004 to 2016, the Autry focused on completing its extensive multi-year, multi-million-dollar work to preserve the significant collections of art, archives, and cultural materials that had been housed at the 103-year-old Southwest Museum site. The combined collections of the Southwest Museum and the Autry—numbering more than 600,000—are now maintained properly and safely at the state-of-the-art Resources Center of the Autry in Burbank, which is currently under construction. Since the merger, the Autry has exhibited thousands of objects from the Southwest Museum Collection, primarily at its Griffith Park campus, helping to present a more complete story of the American West for students, researchers, and the general public. 

SITE In January 2015, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, working in collaboration with the Autry and the City of Los Angeles, designated the historic site a “National Treasure,” launching a multi-phased planning process to identify financially sustainable uses for the Southwest Museum site that reactivate the campus and respond to community needs.


A COLLABORATIVE FUTURE

Together with the National Trust, the City of Los Angeles, and the National Treasure Steering Committee, the Autry is dedicated to finding community-focused organizations that have the necessary organizational and financial capacity to support this important site, and the commitment to be effective long-term partners in its operations.

For more updates, visit TreasureSWM.org.

Collection Details

The Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, the second largest collection of Native American objects in the United States, is widely regarded as one of the finest collections in the world. Artifacts range in age from prehistoric to the present, documenting Native history and culture in the Americas. Some of the earliest pieces in the collection include archaeological materials from museum- sponsored excavations, including those led by notable archaeologist and curator Mark Raymond Harrington. Other collection strengths include a stunning array of ceramics from the southwestern United States. Today, the Autry is committed to maintaining its stewardship responsibilities for this important collection by conserving these objects and ensuring their preservation for generations to come.

Preservation Project Details

The Autry’s Southwest Museum Preservation Project was a multimillion-dollar effort to inventory, preserve, conserve, and rehouse roughly 250,000 artifacts. Over the years, overcrowded storage rooms, poor climate controls, water leaks, pests, and dust imperiled the artifacts, advancing the deterioration of objects of great historic and educational value.

The Autry's Collections Management and Conservation team involved in the project safely rehoused and conserved each object. Our staff established a process to preserve these artifacts, which consists of cleaning, condition reporting, photographing, stabilizing objects in fragile condition, storage mounting, housing, and mitigating pest activity, if necessary. Storage mounts are custom made and unique to individual objects, as the artifacts vary greatly in size, shape, material, and condition. The rehousing process helps ensure that objects maintain their present condition, whether they are being handled, moved, or stored.

Because of these preservation efforts, this culturally important collection can be accessed and shared with American Indian tribes, researchers, and the general public for many generations to come.