August 11, 2009

Autry drops expansion plans

Autry drops plans for $175-million expansion at Griffith Park site

By Suzanne MuchnicThe Autry National Center has bowed out of a protracted battle for a $175-million expansion of its facility in Griffith Park.

City approval of the plan hinged on a recent demand for the Autry to make a legally binding commitment to support the Southwest Museum as a fully functioning art institution in perpetuity. In a letter delivered to members of the Los Angeles City Council today, the Autry stated that such a commitment would be irresponsible and that it is withdrawing its proposal.

“Any further attempt to proceed with the proposed expansion project in Griffith Park would be an ill-advised diversion of our financial resources and an insupportable distraction from our work in serving the community,” Autry President John L.Gray stated in the letter. “We come to this decision with reluctance and deep regret — but the constant delays, the past and future costs, the unyielding insistence on financial and programmatic commitments which we cannot responsibly make, and the prospect of future expensive and debilitating litigation all demand that we fulfill the Autry’s vision under different circumstances.”

The Autry proposed a two-phase project that would have increased its Griffith Park building from 142,000 square feet to 271,000 square feet, including exhibition and visible storage space for the Southwest’s collection. Despite the setback, Autry leaders say they will carry out their vision by continuing to care for the Southwest’s Native American art collection and historic building, and converting Autry storage space into galleries.
A statement from the Autry:

Autry National Center Drops Expansion Plans

Comment:  For more on the subject, see Autry Museum vs. Southwest Supporters.

Below:  The Autry National Center. (Lori Shepler/Los Angeles Times)

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