Autry National Center hires new president

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The Autry Museum in L.A. has hired a new president.

The Autry board of trustees hired Daniel Finley, president of the Milwaukee Public Museum, a natural history and anthropology museum with a collection about nine times larger than the Autry’s.

Finley will oversee several large and contested projects, including a construction project at the Griffith Park building that will increase exhibition space by 25,000 square feet.

The Autry’s also moving forward with another building project in Burbank that will house all its museum holdings, including wax cylinders of early L.A. musicians, Old West cowboy attire, and priceless Indian baskets. Much of that comes from the Autry’s merger with the Southwest Museum in Mount Washington.

That merger, seven years ago, placed the Autry at odds with activists almost from day one. The Autry wanted to turn the Southwest into a satellite exhibition and educational space. Mount Washington activists want the Southwest to remain an independently run museum.

However unlikely that proposal is, the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition have L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar on their side. A spokesman said Huizar hopes the Southwest Museum, which opened in 1907 as L.A.'s first museum, said he hopes the facility reopens soon, possibly in partnership with nearby Occidental College.