The most popular outpost of this unique educational center, the Museum of the American West, was created in 1988 by Western movie star and country recording artist Gene Autry with his friend and fellow Western actor/country singer, Monte Hale, and their wives. Located in Griffith Park just across from the Los Angeles Zoo, the museum, generally referred to as "the Autry," is dedicated to preserving and sharing the complex history and cultural significance of the 19th-century American diaspora and the subsequent boom-growth of the West.
Permanent exhibitions include over 100,000 objects and artifacts from the pioneer and Gold Rush eras (including a full-scale stagecoach and saloon); depictions of the West as a fabled "land of opportunity" alongside an often grittier reality; and screenings of classic Western films, many of which star Autry and Hale themselves. Rotating exhibits have examined the role of women, Jews, blacks, and Chinese railroad workers in the taming of the Wild West, as well as evocative photographs of Native Americans in both historical and modern settings.
It is closed Mondays except Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents' Day. Docent-led tours are generally given on Saturdays at 11:30 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm.
NOTE: The second half of the Autry National Center, the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, is found in one of L.A.'s oldest Eastside neighborhoods, Mount Washington, an approximately 15-minute drive from Griffith Park. Created by newspaper journalist, anthropologist and intrepid traveler Charles Fletcher Lummis, this 1914 museum is now dedicated to the anthropological and archaeological study and preservation of the indigenous people of Arizona, New Mexico, California and more.