Autry Museum Celebrates 30th-Anniversary Year

A private concert by Willie Nelson is one of the highlights of the celebrations planned for the Autry Museum of the American West‘s 30th anniversary this year. 

This fall, the Autry will host special events and programs—including this concert as well as talks, screenings, special offers, and more.

The Autry Museum of the American West (then the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum) opened its doors to the public in 1988 with the goal to collect, preserve, and interpret materials related to the history of the American West. Throughout the past 30 years, the Autry has continued and extended its founders’ vision by offering a wide array of exhibitions and public programs exploring the West’s art, history, and cultures, ranging from its annual American Indian Arts Marketplace to vibrant exhibitions such as Play! (2017), Route 66: The Road and the Romance (2014), and How the West Was Worn (2002).

Taking a walk down memory lane, the Autry Store will offer limited-edition, 80s-themed commemorative memorabilia featuring the original, now-vintage Autry logo.

Founded by Jackie and Gene Autry and Joanne and Monte Hale in Griffith Park, the Autry is committed to bringing together the stories of all peoples of the American West, connecting the past with the present to inspire our shared future. The museum offers visitors world-class galleries filled with Native American art and cultural materials, film-related artifacts, historic firearms, paintings, and more. Throughout the year, the Autry presents a wide range of public events and programs—including lectures, film, theater, festivals, family activities, and music—and performs scholarship, research, and educational outreach. The Autry spans three campuses in Los Angeles: the Autry Museum in Griffith Park, the Historic Southwest Museum Mt. Washington Campus, and the Resources Center of the Autry (near-completion in Burbank). 

W. Richard West, Jr., Autry President and CEO, joined the Autry six years ago after founding the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to lead and participate in the continuing evolution of a museum that means so much to so many people,” West said. “Our mission is to tell the diverse stories of the American West, and I do not think we have ever shied away from that, not in 1988 and not in 2018. From offering exhibitions about the Chicano Rights Movement to presenting public programs about chuck wagon cuisine to providing a theatrical stage for Native playwrights and actors, the Autry remains a place with something for everyone. I hope and expect the next thirty years—and beyond—will be as exciting and vibrant.”

Since its founding, the Autry has grown to encompass a broad and inclusive representation of art, artifacts, cultural materials, and library holdings. In 2002, the Autry merged with Women of the West, a nonprofit organization highlighting the impact of diverse women’s experiences on the history of the American West. In 2003, the Autry merged with the Southwest Museum of the American Indian and began an extensive effort to document, conserve, and preserve more than 250,000 ethnographic and archaeological materials in the historic collection. As the extensive preservation project entered its final phase in 2015, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Autry’s historic Southwest Museum Mt. Washington Campus site a National Treasure, launching a collaborative process to identify a long-term sustainable future for the Los Angeles landmark.

For more information about upcoming 30th Anniversary programs and events visit,

Anniversary Public Programs and Events.

Gene Autry’s 111th Birthday

Saturday, September 29, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Celebrate the museum’s founder and enjoy a complimentary piece of birthday cake in Crossroads West Cafe. General adult museum admission is only $9.29 to mark this special occasion.

Screenings of Films from 1988

See films with varying views of the American West from the year the Autry was founded–1988! 

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

Saturday, August 18, 1:30 p.m.

This update on the noir genre explores some of the ever-relevant issues that have shaped modern Los Angeles—from freeway construction to segregation to police brutality. Introduction by Jim Newton, UCLA Lecturer of Public Policy and former editor at the Los Angeles Times. Screened in 35mm

The Milagro Beanfield War (1988) 

Saturday, September 15, 1:30 p.m.

 A small farmer faces off against corrupt business interests that are trying to control a community’s water supply. This classic Western plotline is set in the fictional Hispano town of Milagro, New Mexico, with elements of magical realism. Screened in 35mm

Sunset (1988)

Saturday, October 20, 1:30 p.m.

While making a silent film about the life of the legendary lawman Wyatt Earp, veteran actor Tom Mix (Bruce Willis) discovers that the real Earp (James Garner) is on the film set as a technical advisor. The two become friends, but when a murder takes place, the two become partners and set about tracking down the killer.

Young Guns (1988)

Saturday, November 17, 1:30 p.m.

 A group of young gunmen, led by Billy the Kid, become deputies to avenge the murder of the rancher who became their benefactor. But when Billy takes their authority too far, they become the hunted.

30th-Anniversary Celebration

Saturday, October 13, 6:00 p.m.–Midnight

At this Autry fundraising event, enjoy cocktails, dinner, a live performance by Willie Nelson, and an after party under the stars with live music and dancing.

Purchase individual tickets here.

Visit for more details.

La Raza exhibition.

LA RAZA exhibition runs through February 10, 2019 The Autry in Griffith Park.

LA RAZA – About the Exhibition:

Published in Los Angeles from 1967-1977, the influential bilingual newspaper La Raza provided a voice to the Chicano Rights Movement. La Raza engaged photographers not only as journalists but also as artists and activists to capture the definitive moments, key players, and signs and symbols of Chicano activism. The archive of nearly 25,000 images created by these photographers, now housed at the Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA, provides the foundation for an exhibition exploring photography’s role in articulating the social and political concerns of the Chicano Movement during a pivotal time in the art and history of the United States. LA RAZA is the most sustained examination to date of both the photography and the alternative press of the Chicano Movement, positioning photography not only as an artistic medium but also as a powerful tool of social activism.

LA RAZA is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, taking place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than 70 cultural institutions across Southern California. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America. For more information, visit the Pacific Standard Time website.

LA RAZA is presented in conjunction with the Autry’s Harry Gamboa Jr.: Chicano Male Unbonded photography exhibition.

LA RAZA exhibition runs through February 10, 2019 at the Autry in Griffith Park.

Investigating Griffith Park Project Launch

Saturday, November 17

In celebration of the Autry’s three decades in Griffith Park, the museum is transforming one of its core galleries into an experimental, hands-on space dedicated to the land on which it stands, Griffith Park. In the coming years, this gallery will evolve through public feedback and ideas to become a full-fledged exhibition by the park’s 125th anniversary in 2021.

Way Back Wednesday

Wednesday, November 21, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

Rewind to 1988 and pay original museum admission prices from the day the Autry opened (Adults: $4.95; Children (3–12): $3.95). Dress in ‘80s-inspired attire for a special prize. 

About the Autry Museum of the American West

The Autry is a museum dedicated to exploring and sharing the stories, experiences, and perceptions of the diverse peoples of the American West, connecting the past to the present to inspire our shared future. The museum presents a wide range of exhibitions and public programs—including lectures, film, theatre, festivals, family events, and music—and performs scholarship, research, and educational outreach. The Autry’s collection of more than 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts includes the Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, one of the largest and most significant of Native American materials in the United States. 

Museum admission is $14 for adults, $10 for students and seniors 60+, $6 for children ages 3–12, and free for Autry members, veterans, and children age 2 and under. Admission is free on the second Tuesday of every month.


Museum and Autry Store: 

Tuesday–Friday, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. 

Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. 


Crossroads West Cafe: 

Tuesday–Friday, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. 

Saturday and Sunday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.


The museum, store, and cafe are closed on Mondays. Visit for more information. 

Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.


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