The latest effort to find a financial partner to refurbish the Southwest Museum building in Mount Washington has ended without success. A potential partner who had been evaluating the site since early 2018 has made “an internal business decision” not to invest, said Maren Daughtery, a spokesperson for the Autry Museum of the American West, which has owned the site since 2003.
Ms. Daughtery provided the information in response to questions from the Boulevard Sentinel
So far, several parties have evaluated the site and decided not to move forward. Ms. Daughtery would not identify any of the parties and declined to give specifics on why the latest potential partner walked away.
The lack of progress is a sore point for community supporters of the Southwest Museum who want the building restored so that its collection of Native American and indigenous art can be housed there — a goal that the Autry has agreed to pursue. Currently, the Autry has most of the collection in off-site, state-of-the-art storage.
Frank Parrello, a local historic preservation consultant who serves on the Steering Committee that advises the Autry on its management of the Southwest Museum, said he is disappointed that the latest effort to find a financial partner has fallen through. But he said he believes the Autry is committed to preserving the building and finding a partner who is able and willing to exhibit a portion of the historic collection at the site.
Ms. Daughtery told the Boulevard Sentinel that the Autry would reopen communication with potential partners who were put on hold while the one that has now backed out was in the picture. She said the Autry would also work with the community to identify new potential partners – so, if you know any multi-millionaires who might be interested, now would be a good time to speak up!
Seriously, the community would be in a better position to participate in decisions about the building if it knew what the potential partners were thinking when they decided not to invest. What did they like about the site? What did they dislike? Case studies and other disclosure about what investors and the Autry have learned in the course of evaluating the site could – at long last – illuminate a path forward.