When Charles F. Lummis died Nov. 26, 1928, he left behind an imposing legacy: a citadel-like structure with thick adobe walls and red tiled roof which overlooks the city from a Mt. Washington hilltop in Highland Park.
Now a historic landmark, the Southwest Museum that Lummis founded in 1907 with a group of friends has one of the finest Native American collections in the nation. Throughout the year, the museum sponsors lectures, classes, films, music, theatrical events and other educational programs to further understanding of the native cultures of the Americas.
This weekend the museum celebrates its major annual event, the Festival of Native American Arts. Held today and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., this year's festival will concentrate on California's Mexican heritage--with music and dance, demonstrations of traditional cooking, silver engraving, saddle making and roping tricks. There will be activities for children, including pinata making and papel picado (paper cutting), films and snacks.
Lawry's California Center (at Avenue 26 between San Fernando Road and Figueroa Street) is offering a $10 lunch that includes free parking, an admission ticket and shuttle bus service from the center to the museum. Regular admission to the festival is $3 for adults, seniors/students $2, ages 7-18 $1.50. Children under 6 are free.
The museum, the city's first, was completely renovated in a program that began in 1981. Its exhibits of artifacts--ranging from a Southern Cheyenne tepee to prehistoric pottery, basketry, beaded wearing apparel, weapons, jewelry and colorful textiles--are arranged in four main halls.
The Plains Hall includes art and artifacts from the Sioux, Blackfeet, Commanche and Cheyenne. The Northwest Hall depicts Native American cultures extending from Alaska to northern California, while the Southwest Hall represents such tribes as the Hopi, Zuni, Apache and Navajo.
The California Hall portrays both historic and contemporary Indian culture from four geographic areas of the state: the south, northwest, central and desert. One of the most interesting exhibits in this hall is a replica of a Chumash cave that still exists in the Santa Monica Mountains. Various symbols on the walls have been copied from the originals.
Rare Spanish Volumes
Lummis, a prolific writer, talented photographer and a respected ethnologist, contributed the nucleus of a library for the museum, including manuscripts, photographs and books, some of which are rare Spanish volumes on Southwest history. Today, the Braun Research library houses more than 200,000 items that are available for free public use.
The museum also maintains the Casa de Adobe, a satellite facility a few blocks distant at 4605 N. Figueroa St. A replica of an 1850s Mexican hacienda with furnishings and decorative art of the period, it was donated to the museum in 1925 by the Hispanic Society of California. To reach the Southwest Museum, take the Pasadena Freeway (110) to the Ave. 43 exit. Follow this to Figueroa Street. Right to Ave. 43, and left there to Marmion Way. Right one block to Museum Way. There is parking near the tunnel entrance or at the top of the hill. If you park there, ride the elevator down to the tunnel so you don't miss the interesting dioramas along the passageway.
Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 1-5 p.m. Closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission is $1.50 for adults, $1 for seniors/students; 75 cents for young people 7-18. Children under six are admitted free. The research library is open Tuesday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. There is no admission charge to use the library. The Casa de Adobe is open Tuesday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m . Admission is free.