The Autry Museum of the American West has announced the successful conclusion of the Challenge, Discover, Celebrate campaign, a six-year, $80-million comprehensive fundraising initiative.
The Autry will use the funds to open a new Resources Center in Burbank and further elevate the visitor experience at its Griffith Park campus. The campaign also allowed the Autry to endure challenges during the past two years.
“The Challenge, Discover, Celebrate campaign supported the Autry at an especially precarious moment in our history, enabling the museum to fulfill its important mission during this time of global uncertainty,” said Stephen Aron, president and CEO of the Autry. “We also want the Autry to matter more to more people, and this funding has put us on the path to do just that.”
The Autry’s new Resources Center, a 100,000 square foot state-of-the art research and collections care facility, will be home to the combined collections of the Autry and the historic Southwest Museum of the American Indian. It will include more than 600,000 objects, artworks and cultural materials. 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 collections, Aron said.
For Native American communities, access to items in the collections will support repatriation and the documentation of histories, languages, traditions and cultural practices. Having the Autry collections under one roof also creates opportunities for research, exhibition development, publications and cultural inquiries by native community members, curators, scholars, graduate students and journalists, Aron added.
“The importance of the work of the Resources Center cannot be overstated,” said David Cartwright, chair of the center’s board of directors 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. 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.”
The campaign was launched in 2016 under the leadership of then-President and CEO Rick West, who guided the initiative until his retirement in June 2021. West, a civil rights lawyer who previously founded the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, remains involved with the institution as the Autry’s president and CEO emeritus, and ambassador [for] native communities.
“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,” West said. “Opening the Resources Center as a site of research, collections care and repatriation 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 conclusion of the campaign marks an important milestone in the institution’s history, providing a solid platform upon which the Autry will further extend its mission to tell the diverse stories of the American West in the future.
The Autry Museum of the American West is located at 4700 Western Heritage Way in Griffith Park. For information, visit theautry.org.
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