The Autry Museum


A historical place also known as a heritage site is defined as a locale where pieces of cultural, military, political and social history are officially preserved because of cultural heritage value attached to them. Normally, legacy properties are accorded the full protection of law; most such spots have been granted the status of official national heritage sites. The latter could be a structure or a local site of regional or national importance, building or landscape. Cultural resources are maintained and managed for society; they serve as a source of information about one’s cultural endowment. The public members are provided with guides who are trained about the history of the place and offer in-depth information to the community (Su and Lin 48). One of the most significant heritage sites in the history of America is the Autry museums, which have played a crucial role in shaping the present using the past; information preserved in the Autry museum, can be sued to help solve the current challenges, which California faces.


The Autry museum of the West inspires the future of the Western Americans, by congregating their stories together, connecting their past with the present. The museum was founded in 1988, by Gene Autry and Jackie, and Joanne and Monte Hale. The Autry museum has developed to include a wide range of artifacts, art representation, film memorabilia, historical firearms, paintings, library holdings and cultural materials. Women of the West and the Autry museum merged in 2002; the former is a nonprofit organization, which emphasizes the part played by females in creating the Western American history (McManus 97).

It is considered the pioneering museum in the US since it focuses solely on the experiences of the Western women despite their cultural origin. The Autry collection encompasses about five hundred thousand pieces of artifacts and art, which include Southwest museum of the American Indian collection that is regarded as one of the most substantial and crucial group of materials that belong to the natives of America. In the compound of the Autry museum, there is a sculpture of Gene Autry with the full attire of a cowboy and a horse at his side. Therefore, this sculpture serves as a sign of homage to the founder of the site Gene Autry (Rosenheck 27). The museum has a gallery filled with native plants; this ethnobotanics garden contains about sixty species of flora and shows how they were used by the indigenous population in California. Moreover, this area focuses on the four major stories of California, which include fire, salmon, desert and plants, which were treated as medicine and food. The knowledge of these herbs can aid in survival of the California people and also equip them with significant information on how to cater for the environment. Native American objects of contemporary work such as soundscapes, photography, and multimedia are illustrated vividly displaying current local communities. The section demonstrates how ecology and culture integrated in the landscape of California. Furthermore, this part of the historical heritage is designed in such a way that it allows for the inclusion of new stories as they are developed over time (Whelan 102).

The work and life of Mabel McKay is another exhibit in the museum. One of the reasons that the Autry museum merged with the Women of the West, was to indicate the participation of females in the history of the Western US. McKay is one of the renowned American women who came from Northern California. She respected and adhered to traditions all her life. One of her most celebrated skills is the weaving ones that is evident from baskets displayed as showpieces in the exhibitions. The baskets life is also displayed starting from cultivation, then harvesting and finally processing the raw materials. In addition, the techniques used by the Pomo people to weave are included. She was also known for her traditional healing skills and advocating for the environment and community. The exhibition comprises her doctoring suitcase, deerskin dress and a lunch box, which she always carried with her when she worked at Cannery (Whelan 106). During her lifetime, McKay shared knowledge pertaining to the customs of the Pomo residents globally. On the other hand, the bead exhibit at the Autry portrays the abilities of the native Western Americans in arts. Thus, these floral designs depict methods of survival among the original inhabitants of North America both culturally and economically.

California road trip room is aimed at offering inspiration and rest to the visitors of the museum. In this section, attendants spend about six hours for a close up and panoramic projection film. Additionally, this movie presents the most scenic views in the whole California land, which includes biomes and landscapes. Hence, these breathtaking sites include North Americas lowest point, Death Valleys desert climate that is considered extreme, California’s exemplary topography, starry skies of Joshua tree, Big Sur idyllic Ocean Bluffs, Central coastline, California Redwoods majestic giants, world’s tallest trees, Mt. Whitney which is regarded as the most elevated summit in the US. The exhibits depict a culture that was diverse in nature, and most of all, the one that was able to integrate its daily activities with the natural environment which have contributed to shaping the current generation. Deeper understanding of the indigenous Western Americans could play a major role in solving some of the challenges that California is facing now such as adverse environmental effects (Rosenheck 35).

Significance of the Autry Museum to California and Multi-cultural United States

The Autry museum serves as significant heritage site to California and the US due to the fact that, a lot can be deduced from the history it preserves. The natives were able to protect and at the same time benefit from the environment they lived in, through the various species of plants conserved in the locale, the modern generation can undertake the task to study them and learn from the indigenous people in terms of the uses of herbs both medically and as a food source. With the current ever-increasing population, alternative nourishment and remedy could help in mitigating some of the challenges in the world such as malnutrition and diseases. Each one of the first communities led a life that was separate from the other but somehow they found a way to coexist (Lupack 72). With the current highly populated US, comprising of representatives from different cultures, this could serve as a source of knowledge and inspiration on how to find common ground with each other. The history of the West can serve as a sign of unity among the Western Americans by giving them a general sign of identity, which will in return foster peace and patriotism among citizens. Strong cultural heritage connects people by means of beliefs, social values, customs and religions. Through spiritual legacy, citizens are able to develop a sense of identity with those who are like-minded. Additionally, it grants aid in comprehending generations that preceded the modern one.

Racialization is defined as creating social boundaries the aim of which is to offer protection to the integrity of cultural ethnic legacies. The procedure through which humans get identified racially is established both socially and culturally. A particular society may be racialized historically. According to the exhibitions in the Autry museum, a sense of superiority is portrayed among the Native Western Americans. The manner, in which the history of the indigenous population is described, depicts them as a superior race rather than other inhabitants of the US (Rosenheck 46). The setting is biased in that it only displays historical artifacts of some groups of citizens and uses that as a basis to judge how different communities contributed to shaping the history of California. In reality there could have existed some marginalized populaces whose work never saw the light of the day or were at some point considered insignificant. Specifically, Mexicans encountered hostilities from the aboriginal residents of California, among the historical exhibitions very little can be said about the Mexicans. Thus, this outlines racialization, as most of the items in the museum concentrates mostly on the history of the natives, which in a way delineates superiority compared to other races, which may have inhabited that region. Lack of archeological evidence representing the existence of other communities is in itself interpreted as discrimination. The only proof that the Mexicans were in the early California land is the artifacts of the great American-Mexican war, presence of which can only be attributed to the fact that the autochthonous people participated in the war. 

The historical exhibitions displayed in the Autry Museum can be connected to a few occurrences in California. The heritage site is a host of a wide variety of sixty species of plants, which served as medicine and food. California has been regarded as the greatest producer of wine grapes in the US. Furthermore, California ranks the third largest state in the US, of which five hundred and forty thousand acres are used to plant wine grapes. The extensive knowledge of herbs passed on from the indigenous population can be attributed to the current success in farming. Lupack further argues that despite the fact that, “California is highly urbanized which makes most of the land to be under industries, the state still is the leader in terms of agriculture, the national parks found in California are established to protect and preserve natural resources and nature. The heritage sites exhibit some of the most prominent geographical features in California, which are the highest and lowest points, Mt. Whitney and Badwater Basin located in Death Valley” (Lupack 79). Therefore, these two physical features make the state of California outstand in the world history. The firearms collected in the museum are a great sign of the Mexican American War. Hence, these hostilities are crucial to for the development of the Western America since it was one of the few historical events that shaped California. The most gigantic living tree globally is found in California; once again the efforts of the Western Americans provided the state with the place in the course of the world history. The ability of this tree to survive this long can be attributed to the fact that the natives were able to cohabitate with their environment safely (Lupack 80).

California is home to one of the most famous industries, film production. The latter is known to promote national heritage in diverse ways; cultural and social diversity among the autochthonous population of the West. Therefore, this platform formed a strong foundation for these industries to flourish. California has produced some of the greatest females in different areas, the Women of the West was established to recognize the contribution of women to the creation of the Western American history. Thus, females were empowered to achieve success and facilitated to make California the third largest state in the US (Rosenheck 70).

In the recent US elections, Hillary Clinton garnered the most popular votes in the state of California compared to Donald Trump. It is clear that encouragement and recognition that the Women of the West gave to Californian females can be connected with the support that Clinton got from California. The state is cloned as the most successful state from the economical perspective in America. The earlier economic efforts of the natives can only be attributed to the fueling factor of this success. The autochthonous population managed to create an economically successful culture through activities such as farming, artwork, which was used in trade and manufacturing, as well as selling firearms. The current climatic change in California has raised concerns, which have made the political system introduce policies to protect the environment (Mann and Peter 3858). Due to the adverse knowledge available in the Autry museum with regards to how the indigenous inhabitants were able to protect the surroundings and keep it safe from the activities that they embarked on a daily basis, a good foundation was established for the policy-makers to implement appropriate measures to restore the world as it was or make it even better.

Having formed fundamentals for most industries, which have boosted the economy of California making it one of the biggest not only in the US but also around the globe, California has not been spared by the fangs of global warming. The marine ecosystem serves as a habitat to the most diverse marine life. In an attempt for men to exploit the resources, humans have caused more harm to the environment than expected. Global warming is affecting the Californian current, which brings money to the state via tourism (Rosenheck 76). Neglect to introduce systems to curb such an ecological issue have resulted in erosion of the living resources of the ocean. The natives coexisted peacefully with the nature while at the same time exploited its benefits. Using the evidence left by the aborigine population preserved in the Autry museum, the modern generation can formulate laws that would help control challenges, which the Californian marine environment deals with.


It is clear from the abovementioned discussion that heritage sites are crucial due to the vast information, which they protect and preserve. The data stored in these historical locales can help foster a strong social, economic and cultural practice. It can also serve as a source of solutions to challenges, which the environment faces. Legacy resources are vital for the generation that has lost its uniqueness; they offer crucial facts, which could serve as a foundation for identity and patriotism. Therefore, these sites should be secured by the government due to the nature of the information they harbor.

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