Visiting the Autry and Learning about the American West

My husband thinks I have never met a museum I didn't like, and he's probably right. I admit it, I am a little bit of a museum junky. I blame it on my parents who never saw something rusty or old that they didn't want to stop and look at. I would probably collect old and rusty things too, but they freak my husband out. Where I see history, he sees tetanus. So instead of hanging around swapmeets, I settle for going to museums.  

As a California native, I have spent years driving past The Autry National Center located in the Griffith Park area of Los Angeles. The museum is directly across the street from the Los Angeles Zoo and you can see the striking campus from the freeway. I have always wanted to go, but for one reason or another I was never able to make it inside. All that changed a few Saturdays ago.

The Autry National Center is a museum dedicated to the diverse people of the American West. It has over 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts.  The museum is a great way for kids to learn more about California and the Wild West. 


Of course the museum has plenty of things behind glass for the whole family to look at, but there are plenty of hands on activities for little kids as well. Outside is small garden with waterfall and an area where children can try their hand at panning for gold.


Inside, there is a Family Discovery Gallery in the museum where children can touch, play, and learn about a Chinese American family from the 1930s. The gallery is based on the real See Family and is broken up into several small sections representing the family's home, antique store, and restaurant. The kids can try on costumes, play with toys, make a meal in the homes kitchen, or run the mock restaurant.   

If you have an hour to spare, I highly recommend attending a docent-lead tour. The docents are incredibly nice and knowledgable. They also have the keys to the touch carts.

Each touch cart is themed and houses several items for the kids to hold and try on. On our tour, the kids learned about Mountain Men, Native American Indians, and Cowboys. They were able to touch animal pelts, view artifacts up-close, and try on a few pieces of clothing. 

Museum outings like this can be pricey, so many of you will be happy to know that the museum offers free Tuesday every second Tuesday of the month. They also offer admission discounts to various credit card holders and bank users, so don't be afraid to ask.

It is worth noting that The Autry website boasts a series of special family events on Sundays. The events are themed and include additional kidcentric activities. 

Happy Museum going!

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