The museum takes great pains to meet expectations
set by Gene Autry whose goal it was "to build a museum which would exhibit
and interpret the heritage of the West, and show how it influenced America
and the world." Cowboys, cowgirls, native American Indians and immigrants
are represented throughout the galleries and shows.
The beautiful buildings offer air conditioned comfort
and dramatic displays which break the mold. Above
left: The Colt Firearms Collection of significant
and historical firearms is the nation's finest. An entire room is filled
with hundreds of mint condition guns such as a Colt Texas Patterson Revolver,
circa 1838. A jacket, Colt rifle and Custom shotgun belonging William F.
"Buffalo Bill" Cody, a Winchester rifle, Colt revolver and holster used
by Theodore Roosevelt in the West and a Smith and Wesson revolver used
by Annie Oakley in her shows are a few samples of what's on display.
Music and spoken dialogue are often played as you wander
from floor to floor, one exhibit to the next. Graphic murals from Disney
"imagineering" help bring history to life. Pictured middle: More than 40,000
area school children visit the museum each year. Hands-on Los Angeles Times
Children's Discovery Gallery is the place where children and families
learn about history through games and exploration. Workshops, classes,
and activities for children and school tours are offered. Arrangements
can be made by calling: 323-667-0988
Built largely with foundation funds, Gene Autry said,
" The West has been very kind to me over the years. I felt that I
owed something." He called the museum, which covers the West from
prehistoric times to Hollywood, a gift to the world rather than a monument
to himself. Among the items in the $54 million museum are an 1870s-era
steam fire engine from Nevada, guns owned by Annie Oakley and Wyatt
Earp, and costumes of TV's Lone Ranger and Tonto.
Books, CDs, jewelry, fancy foods, socks, shirts, jackets,
lights, key chains, cards, candy, toys and unique gifts are sold at Museum
Location: Historic Griffith Park at 4700 Western Heritage
Way, across from the Los Angeles Zoo, where the 4 and 134 Freeways meet
at the Gene Autry interchange. Museum is open from 10 a.m.
to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday and on major holidays except Thanksgiving
and Christmas. Now open Thursday evenings until 8 PM.