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Autry Museum Raises $80 Million

The campaign has also allowed the Autry to weather the formidable challenges of the last two years.

Autry Museum Raises $80 Million

The Autry Museum of the American West announced today the successful conclusion of a six-year, $80 million comprehensive fundraising initiative, the Challenge, Discover, Celebrate campaign. Thanks to the generosity of its Trustees, donors, and members, the Autry will open a new Resources Center in Burbank, as well as further elevate the experience of visitors and community stakeholders at its Griffith Park campus. Crucially, the campaign has also allowed the Autry to weather the formidable challenges of the last 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."

Located in Burbank, the Autry's new Resources Center-a 100,000 square foot, state-of-the art research and collections-care center-will be home to the combined collections of the Autry and the historic Southwest Museum of the American Indian, numbering 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 expansive collections and informing thinking about the past, present, and future of our region.

For Native American communities, access to collections items 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, journalists, and others.

"The importance of the work of the Resources Center cannot be overstated," said David Cartwright, Board Chair and 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 (Cheyenne), who guided the initiative until his retirement in June 2021. West, a civil rights lawyer by training who previously founded the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, remains involved with the institution in his capacity as the Autry's President and CEO Emeritus, and Ambassador, 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," said West. "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."

Major support for the campaign has come from Autry Trustees and generous contributions from individuals, foundations, and companies. A crucial element of the campaign was the $30 million match pledged by Jackie Autry-who, along with co-founders Gene Autry and Joanne and Monte Hale, founded the museum in 1988. Jackie Autry delivered the final $25 million of her pledge at the end of 2021-and by so doing, completely paid off expenses incurred by the construction of the Resources Center.

Beyond these major acts of philanthropy, a unique feature of the campaign has been the emphasis placed on individual giving. These donations increased 34% year-over-year when compared with the period before the initiative, forming a significant portion of the campaign overall. Individuals could join the campaign with virtually any act of financial support-including becoming a member of the Autry-and at any level.

"Along with Jackie's incredible generosity, I was heartened to see the number of contributions to the campaign by individuals by all means and from across many diverse communities, including Autry members," said Tom Lee, Autry Board Member and Chair of the Campaign Committee. "For those familiar with fundraising, this is truly a significant metric. People from Los Angeles and beyond feel very close to the Autry, and think of it as 'their museum.' We so appreciate everyone's generosity, and we are confident the Autry Museum community will be enriched for years to come by the work this funding will support."

The conclusion of the campaign marks an important milestone in the institution's 30+ year 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. In many ways, however, this is not the ending of the story but just the beginning. Individuals, foundations, and corporations are invited to visit TheAutry.org/donate to learn more about how to support the ongoing, meaningful work of the Autry Museum of the American West.



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