Southwest Museum | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Tom Davies

Southwest Museum

The historic Southwest Museum campus, perched on a hilltop along the Arroyo Seco, is an architectural treasure and icon of northeast Los Angeles.

The first museum in Los Angeles, the Southwest Museum of the American Indian was created in the early 1900s by Charles Fletcher Lummis, a central figure in the region’s early history.

Lummis is considered by many to be the father of historic preservation in Southern California, having founded the Landmarks Club in 1895 to promote restoration of the badly deteriorated eighteenth-century missions. The Southwest Museum was one of Lummis’ most significant projects, intended to make Southern California “one of the nation’s chief centers of culture.”

Designed by Sumner Hunt and Silas Burns in the Mission Revival style, the Southwest Museum building opened in 1914. It was home to one of the world’s finest collections of Native American artifacts and stood as a cultural focal point in northeast Los Angeles for more than seventy-five years. The museum building is a designated Historic-Cultural Monument and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

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