W. Richard ‘Rick’ West, Jr. to Lead Autry National Center
The Board of the Autry National Center of the American West has announced W. Richard ‘Rick’ West, Jr. will be joining the museum as its new President and CEO. He will be taking leadership of the organization as it moves into the next critical phase of its development as a premier museum, education center and research institution bringing together diverse experiences, collections, and stories that make Western history come alive.
“As you know, the Autry is undergoing comprehensive and exciting changes as an organization, with refocused programming in new exhibit galleries, the Autry Resource Center in Burbank, and the newly conserved Southwest Collection,” said Marshall McKay, Chairman of the Board of the Autry National Center. “In our strategic development, we’ve encountered new challenges and opportunities and carefully reassessed what the Autry needs to make this transition a success at every level. The Board recognized the need for a specific set of skills and experience in its President to lead the organization at this crucial time. We believe Rick West’s wealth of expertise as founding director of a national museum, tribal leader and Native legal expert offer the background the Autry needs.”
With a Master’s Degree in American History from Harvard University and a J.D. from Stanford University, Mr. West spent decades in the legal arena, much of his work focused on Native American and tribal issues. In 1990, he became the founding director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, D.C. During his 18-year tenure, he oversaw NMAI’s successful development, design and construction and then growth as the leading institution dedicated to the representation and interpretation of the indigenous cultures of the Western Hemisphere. Most recently, he served as the Interim Director of the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.
“Having worked for most of my professional life on Native American issues, I am passionate about telling the compelling and important story of the American West and all the people who created that history and shape the present and future,” said Mr. West. “The Autry has such a powerful and unique opportunity now to deliver on that mission with exciting new resources, exhibits, and facilities to engage and educate the public. I am honored to join this institution as it celebrates its 25th anniversary and moves toward bright future horizons.”
As President and CEO, Mr. West will be responsible for all operations at the Autry from collection development and financial sustainability to institutional growth and visitor experience. He will oversee a team of 160 professionals as well as 300 volunteers, all dedicated to the Autry’s core mission.
“We appreciate the progress achieved under the guidance of our outgoing President, Dan Finley. During his term, the Board developed and adopted our new strategic plan,” said Jackie Autry, Founding Chair of the Autry National Center. “This strategic plan will give new life to our fundraising initiatives and articulates a future that is clear, exciting, of value to our community, and sustainable. Today, we are excited about where the Autry is headed in its mission of sharing the stories, experiences and perceptions of all of the peoples of the American West.”
About the Autry National Center
The Autry National Center is a history museum dedicated to exploring and sharing the stories, experiences, and perceptions of the diverse peoples of the American West. It was formed in 2003 by the merger of the Autry Museum of Western Heritage with the Southwest Museum of the American Indian and the Women of the West Museum. Located in Griffith Park, the Autry’s collection of more than 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts, includes the collection of the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, one of the largest and most significant in the United States. The Autry Institute includes two research libraries: the Braun Research Library and the Autry Library. Exhibitions, public programs, K–12 educational services, and publications are designed to examine the contemporary human condition through the lens of the historical Western experience and explore critical issues in society.
Weekday hours of operation for the Autry National Center’s museum at its Griffith Park location are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Summer Sunday hours are 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The museum, store, and cafe are closed on Mondays. The libraries are open to researchers by appointment.
Museum admission is $10 for adults, $6 for students and seniors 60+, $4 for children ages 3–12, and free for Autry members, veterans, and children age 2 and under. Admission is free on the second Tuesday of every month.
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