A Los Angeles museum's new leader is creating a place of "ultimate cultural reconciliation" between Western natives and non-natives, right in the home of the signing cowboy Gene Autry. Mekahlo Medina reports for an NBC4 Life Connected Heritage Special on Nov. 18, 2013.
A Los Angeles group has charged that the Autry National Center has reneged on promises made in 2003 when the Autry merged with the Southwest Museum.
The Southwestern Museum is the city's first museum which houses one of the largest collections of American Indian artifacts in the nation.
Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition held a news conference last week protesting the number of days the Southwest Museum is open.
They claim the Autry has spent $10.5 million of taxpayers' money fixing up the Southwestern Museum, yet they are giving back very little in return.
The Southwest Museum is now open one day a week.
"That is not good enough. Taxpayers should be in revolt over how the Autry has disrespected them, and they should let our city, state and federal elected officials know they expected more from the Autry," a coalition spokesperson said.
In a statement released by the Autry, President and CEO W. Richard West said, "With the merger of the Autry with the Southwest Museum, our top priority has been to properly care for and maintain the collection after decades of neglect with the goal of making the collection accessible for research, exhibits, and programs in Los Angeles for decades to come."
The Autry also claims that it have spent the last 10 years cleaning, preserving and rehousing the hundreds of thousands of artifacts and that the multi-year conservation project has required the Autry to repurpose the public galleries into conservation labs and collection storage.
The Autry said it is working with the city and community and are committed to determine the most viable future for the historic site.