Museums ready to welcome back public visitors

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By Juliet Bennett Rylah

Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — As the county slowly reopens from the coronavirus pandemic, museums are being allowed to reopen at 50% capacity.

Among them, the Autry Museum of the American West in Griffith Park officially reopened to the general public April 6, featuring two new exhibits and one returning favorite.

When I Remember I See Red: American Indian Art and Activism in California will remain on view at the Autry through Nov. 15. It explores the intersection of Native American art and activism through 70 works from painters, sculptors, photographers and other Native American artists.

The exhibit is divided into seven sections. First Light explores the role of women in Native American culture. You Are on Native Land focuses on California, an area long inhabited by Native Americans. Native Knowledge delves into generational knowledge, while California Genocide takes a hard look at how Native American populations have been targeted by government actions.

Cultural Inspirations features work that pulls from cultural traditions. The final section, The World is a Gift: Remembering Frank LaPena, looks at the impact of Nomtipom Wintu artist Frank LaPena’s work. LePena was a writer, curator, poet and professor of art at Cal State Sacramento, where he also formerly served as director of Native American Studies. LePena died in 2019.

The overall exhibition was conceived by and is dedicated to LaPena and having a section honoring his life’s work is extremely important and powerful,” the Autry’s Keisha Raines said. 

Opening April 13 is “What’s Her Story: Women in the Archives,” which features photos, letters and diary entries that reveal the work of women over the past two centuries, in their own words.

“One story told in the exhibition is of prolific singer Manuela García, who lived in Los Angeles in the late 19th century and [early] 20th century,” Raines said. “She was an acclaimed writer and singer who embraced her ‘Mexicanidad’ while asserting herself as an American. She is one of the most significant voices of early Los Angeles, yet little is known of her.

“Through ‘What’s Her Story,’ Manuela is reintroduced in the cultural history of Los Angeles and remembered in the way she deserves.”

Through April 11, guests can see the “Masters of the American West Art Exhibition and Sale.” The annual exhibit is a favorite among Autry guests, and this year features work from more than 60 western artists, including Tony Abeyta, George Carlson,G. Russell Case and Tammy Garcia, among others.

To ensure reduced capacity, all guests need to purchase or reserve a timed-entry ticket in advance. Admission is free for everyone through April 18, and for Autry members always. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors must wear a mask at all times.

Guests will be able to visit the Autry Store, where bottled water and snacks are available to enjoy in designated outdoor areas, but the cafe remains closed. The full museum, including the Ethnobotanical Garden, is expected to open by April 20. 

Several other museums within L.A. County are also opening soon or have already opened. The Petersen Automotive Museum reopened with a new Supercars show on March 25. The California African American Museum and the California Science Center both reopened on March 27. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art reopened with six new exhibits, including its Yoshitomo Nara retrospective on April 1. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County also reopened April 1, while its sister museum at the La Brea Tar Pits reopened on April 8.

The Japanese American National Museum will reopen April 16. The Hammer Museum and the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens both reopen on April 17, each featuring one half of the “Made in L.A. 2020: a version exhibit.”

The Wende Museum in Culver City reopens on May 1. Craft Contemporary reopens on May 9. The Skirball Cultural Center reopens on May 15 with an exhibit from Chinese artist Ai Weiwei that features portraits of notable figures made from Lego blocks. Though there is no official date yet, the Getty plans to open sometime in April, while the Broad has announced plans to reopen in May.

Due to capacity and social distancing requirements, visitors should plan to buy a timed ticket in advance and remember to bring their masks.

Juliet Bennett Rylah is a freelance reporter who covers Hollywood and West Hollywood. She can be reached at jbrylah@gmail.com.

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