MOUNT WASHINGTON ( — The Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition on Tuesday protested the management of a local American Indian museum.

Supporters claims the Autry National Center has stiffed taxpayers by spending millions of dollars on the Southwest Museum while giving taxpayers very little in return for their generous investment.

The Autry acquired the museum, along with its collection of Native American artifacts, in 2003.

Supporters say the museum is hardly open, and the Autry has not delivered on its promise to restore the exhibit to its original state.

“After spending approximately $10.5 million of our tax money, the Autry is only giving taxpayers a one-day-a-week exhibit at the Southwest Museum,” said Nicole Possert, coalition spokesperson. “The one exhibit they have just reopened is great, but it’s small, and it’s only assessable to the public for six hours a week.”

Supporters say the museum has been closed for nearly 10 years and accused the Autry of using federal and state money to relocate the $1 billion collection to a warehouse.

“It’s been ravaged of its collection and taken to Burbank,  which means the city lost jobs to the city of Burbank thanks to the Autry foundation,” protester Bob Bordy said.

“Taxpayers should be in revolt over how the Autry has disrespected them, and they should let our city, state and federal elected officials know they expect more from the Autry.”

The Autry released a statement on the protest:

“The multi-year conservation project required the Autry to repurpose the public galleries of the Southwest Museum into conservation labs and collections storage. As this effort draws to a close, one of the galleries recently opened to the public.”

“With the merger of the Autry with the Southwest Museum, our top priority has been to properly care for and maintain the collection after decades of neglect with the goal of making the collection accessible for research, exhibits, and programs in Los Angeles for decades to come.”

The Southwest Museum is the city’s first museum and is registered as a National Historic Place. It will mark its centennial in 2014.

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