Journalist Charles Lummis served as the city librarian of Los Angeles for a few years in the early 20th century and throughout his life was a champion of Native American issues and preserving Southwest history. Those passions converged when he founded the Southwest Museum of the American Indian in 1907. Its castlelike Mount Washington building, designed by Sumner P. Hunt and Silas R. Burns, opened in 1914 and helped establish museum culture in the city with its vast collection of Native American artifacts. By the end of the century, the museum had fallen on hard times, including financial woes and damage from the 1994 Northridge earthquake. In 2003 it merged with the larger Autry Museum of the American West, which restored the building to its former glory (so much so that it was declared a “National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2015) and is working to repair more than 150,000 artifacts that were damaged in the quake. For now, the building houses a small collection of Pueblo pottery and an ethnobotanical garden with a great view. Admission is free, but the museum is open only on Saturdays.
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