Friday, March 13, 2015

Southwest Museum (Birthday Month Adventure #2)

The Southwest Museum is another place I've always wanted to visit but hadn't until Birthday Adventure Month. Maybe always wanting to go but never having gone is one of my unconscious criteria for an adventure.

I'm determined to have at least one adventure per week this month. It's not easy to schedule adventures! I'm so focused on working. But adventures fuel me and I've never regretted one, even the ones that don't turn out like I expect them to. Especially those.

The Southwest Museum, the oldest museum in Los Angeles, looms over the Pasadena freeway, all southwestern/Spanishy in the sun. Damage from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake was so extensive the building had to be closed, and eventually it was acquired by the Autry Museum along with its extensive collections of Native American pottery, baskets and weavings, not just from the southwest but from all over the country. There's a complicated history to this. This link was sent to me by a friend.


There's only one exhibit room open right now, and a few pieces displayed in a downstairs hallway. I found the straw sandal to be the most affecting. It's a fine exhibit, but don't go expecting a full day. The Museum is open Saturdays only. It's free, there's plenty of parking, and you'll see glorious Native American pottery, some pieces as much as 500 years old, some from the late 20th century.

The website is a bit misleading. I clicked on a link for the cafe but it turns out that's at the Autry. We were so hungry that we skipped out without seeing the tunnel, approached from the disabled parking lot on a lower level of the hill. The elevator's not working right now, so if you are wheelchair-bound you're restricted to the upper level. But that's where the pottery is so you'll see most of the good stuff (but not the sandal).

An adventure doesn't always turn out like you expect it to. That's adventure by definition, in a way.

You might want to enlarge this one to appreciate the snow-covered San Gabriel peaks in the distance. This is a view I hadn't seen before, easily gained by stepping to the edge of the parking lot at the Southwest Museum.

Note: Pasadena Adjacent was across the Arroyo from us at about the time of these photos. She was painting watercolor #19 in a series.

26 comments:

William Kendall said...

Great view in that last shot. Even in a partially open state, it would be worthwhile to visit.

Petrea Burchard said...

Maybe too long of a drive for your, William! But for those of us who can hop on the train it's perfect. There's a Southwest Museum train stop on the Gold Line.

altadenahiker said...

Hey, taking the train to anywhere is an adventure in itself. I agree with William, that's a great view.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I miss this museum pre- Whittier earthquake.

Quick share -- I recreated one of their collection's Arapaho dolls for a class I was taking at PCC (going back further then my 33 year watercolors). It's one of the few things I've made that hasn't been lost to all my years of moving. Anyhow, recently i was listening to a woman involved in the spiritual arts give a talk. The more she said the more I heard bells go off. The kind of dog she had a passion for, mentioning specific Indian tribes etc. Afterwards I went up to her and asked if she had taught the class I attended - yes, and i sent her a photo of my doll. It was great on both ends.

I may go back and paint from that view

Bellis said...

I went once when it was still open and it was in a bad way with moth-eaten exhibits. Now I never know if I've gone to the wrong place and missed the exhibits or if it's actually mainly a shell. You've confirmed that it's got almost nothing it it now. Terribly sad way to go, Lummis would be upset. I would much rather see Indian things here than at the Autry, which I didn't warm to on my one visit. Who cares about all that cowboy stuff anyway? They, and the American immigrants, made life even harder for the Indians. A cafe would do well there, with that view and that parking. Why don't they let someone bring up a food truck at the weekend and put out some seats?

What's an Arapaho doll, Liz?

Ann Erdman said...

Driving home yesterday during rush hour from a long meeting in DTLA, I set my GPS to bicycle mode so I could avoid the freeway and take surface streets. Next thing I knew, the Southwest Museum was looming large nearby. It was an unexpected surprise! By the way, I was home in about 20 minutes while the freeway was a parking lot.

Keep up the good adventures.

Eric Baker said...

Nothing wrong with a few adventures - look how well it turned out for the Hobbits! Yes, you never really know what is out there until you actually go so I hope you can keep to your itinerary. The photos are lovely. I don't see the straw sandals though. I guess that I'll have to add that museum to my world tour and check them out myself.

Katie said...

I'm loving your Birthday Month Adventures! I hope you find so many interesting places to visit that you won't stop when March is over. This museum looks like a nice location to step away from the hustle of the big city; and that's a killer view from the parking lot. I think my favorite place so far that you've featured is the barn at the E. Waldo Ward Ranch. When can I move in?

Petrea Burchard said...

I love the train, Hiker. I used to take it almost every day in Chicago, and I take it here whenever I can.

That's a great story, PA. And you should indeed paint from that viewpoint. There are places to sit. I didn't try them, don't know if they're comfortable for a long period.

Bellis, they are looking for funding to complete the rehab. The docent we talked to looks forward to a future when it's in one piece again. I like the idea of a food truck, but as the museum is only open on Saturdays and there weren't many people when we were there, it may not be easy to attract one.

I had the same traffic experience today, Ann. Not much fun. Better to lounge about on the surface streets and have adventures.

I didn't take pictures inside, Eric. I often don't take pictures of art or exhibits—it's like taking pictures of pictures. This was the closest thing I could find online. http://binged.it/1Ce9DPP

Katie, you're going to have to join the Ward family to move in. Might not be bad, that's a nice house! But you'll have to take a job stuffing olives.

Jean Spitzer said...

I love that last photo.

Let's hope the Southwest Museum rebounds and grows stronger in the future.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you, Jean.

llandudnopictures said...

Great tour, and great views!

Bellis said...

Is it possible to get to that car park even when the museum is closed? It'd be a great place to watch the full moon rising next month.

Petrea Burchard said...

I don't know, Bellis, you might give them a call. It would be a lovely place to watch the moon rise.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

ok - but lets not write off the Autry. That is one of the most undervalued and most interesting museums around. The Autry currently has a show up (better check on this to be safe) on Indian bead work. When our friends from the Black foot nation were in town, we sent them to see that exhibit. Native people hid their medicinal plants in the bead work which was being promoted in Indian schools. Plus whoever stages those exhibits is the best in town. Often the presentation is as good as whats present (need we forget Women in Craft exhibit?) Margaret was a fan on that show.

Petrea Burchard said...

I haven't been to the Autry in some years. An acquaintance is a curator there, and I get the impression that she's passionate about her work and the collection.

Shell Sherree said...

And the month is only {barely-almost} half over ~ plenty more adventures in store as well. That's a spectacular view and lovely piccie, Petrea ~ a little moonlight carpark picnic there sounds like a lovely idea if it was permitted. {Or an illicit moonlight picnic if not ... perhaps a well-placed instance of being better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.}

Petrea Burchard said...

John and I have been discussing the forgiveness/permission quandary a lot lately. I am of the "permission" camp by upbringing, not by nature. Adventure month might help cure me of that.

Dina said...

Glad to catch up on your adventures now. Good on ya, Petrea.
I have a list of local places I want to visit in my new region; maybe your example will inspire me to actually do it.

Petrea Burchard said...

It's not easy to allow ourselves to have adventures! The schedule tries to rule. I must not allow it.

Rather be Flying said...

Came over from Pas Adj --- glad I found you again! Went to SW Museum when I was 17 with my boyfriend Kenny (he lived close to Pas Adj). Took the old elevator up. It was a dusty, seldom visited place then with an amazing collection. Hugs, Tash

Petrea Burchard said...

Hello, Tash! I was disappointed that the elevator was out of order and much of the museum wasn't available for us to see. What we did see, though, was clean and well-lit, with a beautiful (though small) collection. The Autry had better be taking good care of that stuff.

Susan Campisi said...

The grounds and the view look enticing, worth a visit with the train ride as part of the adventure. Birthday Adventure Month is a fine idea! My birthday's in January but I don't see why I can't do it in April instead.

Petrea Burchard said...

I'd like to have more adventures but I tend to think I'm too busy. I'm starting small, as you may have noticed! I think April is a fine month for your birthday adventures.

José Mendonça said...

Love the totem pole!

Regaring your comment, here are a couple of shots more of the monument you seemed to like on my yesterday post:

http://oeirasdailyphoto.blogspot.pt/2010/01/monument-to-discoveries.html

http://oeirasdailyphoto.blogspot.pt/2008/11/heroes-at-sunset.html

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you for the links, José! Your photographs are wonderful. I had never seen this remarkable sculpture before. Those Portuguese explorers changed the world.