The Autry Museum of the American West in Griffith Park will mark its 30th anniversary Saturday evening with a dinner gala featuring a tribute to the museum’s late namesake and musical performances by his longtime friend, Willie Nelson, and the country music icon’s son Lukas.
Between 150,000 and 250,000 visitors annually visit the museum that Gene Autry founded with his wife Jackie and their friends Joanne and Monte Hale, who was also a Western film star and country musician.
Called the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage when it opened in 1988, the Autry’s collection of more than 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts includes the Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, touted as one of the largest and most significant in the United States.
Known as “America’s Favorite Singing Cowboy,” Autry’s career as a recording artist, actor and producer spanned more than six decades. He was also an astute businessman who chaired the board of a broadcasting empire and owned the Angels baseball team. He died in 1998 at the age of 91.
Proceeds from the anniversary celebration, which will include an after-party headlined by Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, will benefit the museum’s on- and off-site educational programs and research.
“It is hard to believe that a little over 30 years ago, Joanne Hale and I were sitting in a dusty warehouse, in our overalls, embarking on the adventure of a lifetime helping the Cowboy realize his dream of a museum,” said Jackie Autry, founding chair of the Autry’s board of trustees.
“In those early days we could not have envisioned the scope and expansion that is our now. Gene, Joanne and Monte would be as thrilled as I am,” she said. “I know it would be particularly meaningful to Gene having Willie and Lukas join us on this very special occasion.”
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