Autry National Center

Best Gifts in A Museum Shop, August 2010

The gift shop at the Autry National Center is one of those rare retail environments in which a parent can shop with confidence knowing that much of the merchandise hasn’t been tainted with lead, built to last two weeks, or assembled by children not much older than their own. That’s because the wooden carved tops, the Tiddly Winks, the log fort, and even the Gene Autry commemorative plastic six-shooter are made in the United States. Likewise are the rawhide chaps and wide-brimmed hats for boys and girls and the pearl-button cowboy shirts. The children’s book collection reflects the Autry’s commitment to giving voice to all who struggled on the frontier. There are slim volumes about bronco busting and the like but also books about the western experience of Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans, and Dust Bowl refugees.

Best Hands-On History Lesson, April 2007
The Autry National Center offers a look at the American West with ongoing and special exhibitions for all ages. Comprised of three institutions, it examines the diversity and history of the region. The Museum of the American West, founded in 1988, houses a collection of paintings, sculptures, textiles, tools and other artifacts. The Southwest Museum of the American Indian displays Native American baskets, ceramics, weavings, jewelry and other historical pieces. It was the first museum in Los Angeles. The Institute for the Study of the American West promotes research and education, offering various programs and awards.