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The Autry National Center is Recipient of a $6.6 Million Grant from California State Parks

LOS ANGELES, CA- The Autry National Center has announced that it is the recipient of a $6.6 million grant from California State Parks’ Nature Education Facilities Program. This grant will provide the funding for a major renovation and reinstallation of first-floor galleries and outdoor areas into interactive exhibitions and public spaces housed within the existing museum footprint. The renovation will highlight the history and culture of Native peoples and include two dedicated California Indian galleries and an indigenous teaching garden with bioregions and interpretive centers. The new spaces are designed to educate students and visitors alike. The grant will be administered through the California State Parks’ Office of Grants and Local Services.

“It is a great honor to receive the California State Parks grant, which, along with our nationally renowned Native American collection, will help us to further elevate important educational opportunities around vital environmental issues,” said Autry President and CEO Daniel Finley. “We have made an ongoing commitment to explore Western resources in our programming, and this grant will help us reach and teach thousands of school-age children and museum visitors.”

The multiyear project will be devoted to the Indigenous peoples of California, their relationship to the natural environment, and key resource stewardship practices they have employed in sustaining their traditions and lifeways. Through the Native California galleries and garden, visitors to the Autry will learn about historical and contemporary ecological issues that impact and, in some cases, threaten the way we live. Visitors will also learn how Native communities developed systems and techniques dedicated to maintaining both plant and animal species on which their cultures often depend.

“The new galleries will teach our visitors how our Native vision has historically integrated Indigenous values, lifeways, and the natural environment, and will showcase our outstanding collection within these contexts,” said Marshall McKay, Autry Board Chairman and Chairman of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. “This perspective is rarely taught, and I’m gratified that it will now be highlighted at the Autry, thanks to this important grant.”

The first gallery will house the long-term exhibition First Californians, where visitors will come to understand how nature is weaved into the lifeways and ceremonial traditions of California Indians. It willlook at Native communities and cultures through both thematic and regional perspectives and showcase an important portion of the Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection.

Environmental education continues in the California Native Teaching Garden, where an existing outdoor area will be converted to showcase the various bioregions and flora depicted in First Californians. A water component will replicate the journey of a river from its mountain source to a pool that depicts riparian ecosystems in lower woodlands and coastal marshes. Along the way, visitors will encounter plants native to coniferous forests, mountain meadows, valley grasslands, and alluvial fans, as well as woodlands and marshes—all habitats in which Native cultures traditionally live.

The third major feature of this project is a gallery that will house Dreamers, Doctors, Basketweavers. This gallery rounds out the representation of Native California by focusing on the foothills and coastal woodlands in the state’s central region. Organized around the Autry’s extensive California Indian collections, part of the Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, the exhibitionlooks at Indian culture through the lives of two important twentieth-century Pomo women, Mabel McKay and Essie Parish, both of whom were “doctors” working in traditional methods. McKay was also a renowned basketweaver, and both were key community leaders who helped sustain the lifeways and traditions among the Pomo and other Native California peoples.

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