Showing that merger is not necessarily the end for cultural institutions, papers as far away as New York are following a dispute between Friends of the Southwest Museum (likely an ad hoc group, no Form 990) and the Autry National Center (EIN 95-3947744 Form 990), which acquired the Southwest Museum (EIN 95-1661698 Final Form 990) in 2003. The Autry has decided to close the Southwest until 2010 and convert most of the building to other (educational) uses. The artifacts will be moved and displayed at the Autry Center in Griffith Park.
The Autry National Center is not huge, but it was able to bail out the basically bankrupt Southwest Museum. The LA Times reports that the Autry Center had 165,000 visitors last year, 50,000 of them non-paying school kids; the Southwest had 40,000, half of them from school trips. The budget for the combined operations is just under $20 million. CEO John Gray takes home $208,000 for running an organization with a staff of 166.
The neighborhood battle is driven by Nicole Possert, who appears in articles in the local press (LA City Beat and LA Weekly). The LA Weekly story from last year has an interesting perspective on how the Southwest Museum fits into a more down home "north-south" cultural axis that contrasts with the "east-west" axis of the big-time LA museums like the Getty. Reporter Robert Green contrasts the vanishing history associated with second tier cultural institutions in many older American cities, in this case the story of Charles Lummis, with the pop-culture orientation of the Autry Center.
For the technically inclined, I have extracted the merger agreement between Southwest and the Autry Center, available here as a PDF File 896Kb. Noteworthy are the provisions for staff organization and accession, in particular maintaining separate operations and providing that with minor exceptions the collection of the Southwest Museum can not be deaccessioned until 2013, and then only by 3/4 vote of the trustees.