Gene Autry Museum

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Gene Autry Museum

Andrew Muliadi, Staff Writer

With a western theme of “Dusk Till Dawn,” Arcadia High School’s 2018 Prom will be featured at the Gene Autry Museum of The American West in Griffith Park on June 2nd from 8 p.m. to 12 p.m.

Originally founded in 1988 by Jackie and Gene Autry and Joanne and Monte Hale, the Autry encompasses a broad and inclusive representation of various American West aspects that connects the past and the present. Everything from arts, artifacts, cultural materials, and library holdings pertinent to the American West is available for viewing at the Autry. In 2002 and 2003, the Women of the West non-profit organization and the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, respectively, merged with the Autry to include a more diverse collection of arts and archived materials that would more accurately reflect the American West, with over 600,000 pieces of work to illustrate the interconnectedness of the cultures and histories of the aforementioned.

Of course, the name for this museum is ascribed to Gene Autry. As “America’s Favorite Singing Cowboy”, Gene Autry has had an illustrious career spanning 60 years from the entertainment industry to motion pictures to even live performances. Autry was considered to be an astute businessman, whose broad range of works and interests allowed him to attain ownership of television stations, hotels, music companies, and the Angels Major League baseball team at one point in time. Born in Tioga, Texas, on September 29, 1907, Orvon Gene Autry began singing at the age of 12 after he bought his first guitar. On his way to becoming the most liked singing cowboy, Autry’s career and popularity began during the 1940s, where a string of musical performances offsetted him from the rest of the population. With hit records such as South of the Border and Mexicali Rose, he was eventually nominated for an Academy Award in 1941. Eventually, Autry began to shift toward television acting, with shows such as Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch and The Range Rider becoming major hits that further increased Autry’s popularity. Towards the end of his famed career, Autry became the recipient of numerous awards, ranging from the American Academy of Achievement Award to the Board of Directors Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Achievement In Arts Foundation. On October 2, 1998, Autry passed away in Studio City, California.

With a little background in my mind, we move to the centerpiece of this article: the numerous venues that the Autry Museum has to offer for this year’s prom. The first of these exhibits will be the Gathering Circle, just outside of the Museum Plaza and adjoined to the South Lawn. This patio like area is a large open space that serves as the entrance of the Autry Museum, boasting numerous branches of the Counsel Tree, the Autry’s special topiary. Of course, stepping back, we have the Museum Plaza, the central courtyard to the museum. With a large bell tower serving as an iconic symbol to the museum, in addition to parkland views, the Museum Plaza demonstrates a spacious al-fresco setting for the pleasure of those visiting the Autry. With 8,300 square feet of open-air event space, the Plaza alone can accommodate up to 750 guests for Prom and hold up to approximately 350 guests provided that there are tables set. Furthermore, because this event space is open air, a clear view of the sky and its stars is possible after the sun sets. Of course, we also have the South Lawn that boasts an even greater amount of space. With 2.5 acres of Land, the aforementioned location can hold approximately 4,000 guests for a variety of large scale events as well as promoting an expansive view of Griffith Park. Moving into the Autry, our first indoor venue would be the Peggy and Lowry Mays Lobby. As an overlook to another venue space, Heritage Court, the Peggy and Lowry Mays Lobby boasts an extensive collection of dramatic architecture and vaulted ceilings. With 1,800 square feet available, the Lobby can hold approximately 200 guests. Descending down a flight of steps leads you to the Heritage Court venue, the heart of the Autry Museum. Being the largest indoor banquet space, Heritage Court is surrounded by a panoramic mural with optional curtains that can provide a neutral backdrop. At 2,200 square feet, this luxurious space can hold up to 500 guests. Finally, though not necessarily considered a venue option, is the Wells Fargo Theater. Equipped with surround sound and multiple lights, the theater can seat 206 guests.

In addition to the multifarious venues available, there are also numerous exhibitions that are available for visit. One such exhibit would be Rick Bartow’s exhibit, a scene dedicated to Bartow’s contemporary take on Native American art. As an established artist since 1980, Bartow’s works often feature large scale paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures that reveal haunting combinations of animals and human forms that are both deeply personal and cultural. Moving on, we also have an Art of the West exhibit, showcasing the dynamic and evolving world of art that springs from the cultural references of those shaping the American West. A collection of works from various artists, this exhibit represents the values and interests of the American West during numerous periods to create a distinct and powerful atmosphere. One of the more notable exhibits that the Autry features would something like the Cowboy Gallery. Recently following renovations of the exhibit, the Gallery features new videos, infographics, and hands on activity stations that illustrate the life of cowboys. From California to Oklahoma, all the pieces and functions of this Gallery serve to highlight that the cowboy is fusion of American traditions fused with a rough Western environment that eventually became the American Frontier.

Overall, the Autry is infused with the history and culture of the American West over a vast period of time. With a combination of contemporary and historic exhibits, paired with a variety of venue spaces that each boast a superior characteristic, this years Prom is sure to be a blast from dusk till dawn.