Museum and grounds are open weekends
11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Special docent led tours are available Thursdays, by appointment only.
See Museum School and Group Tours.
Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park
The museum was originally constructed by homesteader/artist H. Arden Edwards in 1928. The chalet-style structure was built over an entire rock formation of Piute Butte in the Mojave Desert. The museum offers the visitor a unique experience.
The Antelope Valley Indian Museum has been a public museum since 1932, but it has also been a homestead, a theater, a dude ranch, a Hollywood set, and an attraction. It is situated on 147 acres of desert parkland on the south side of Piute Butte in the Mojave Desert against a dramatic backdrop of Joshua trees and towering rock formations. The building’s unique architecture and creative engineering earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Native American Heritage Commission designated Piute Butte as a sacred landscape.
The museum exhibits over 3,000 objects, including many rare and outstanding objects from the Antelope Valley, California coast, Great Basin, and the Southwest. An important four way trade route developed in the Antelope Valley at least 4,000 years ago. The trade routes went west and south to the California coast, north to the Central Valley, northeast to the Great Basin (the desert east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains), and east to the pueblos in what is now Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico. The trade route expanded and enriched the material and social resources available to Antelope Valley residents, allowing large villages to develop near the valley’s springs.
History of H. Arden Edwards
Howard Arden Edwards, a self-taught artist, was fascinated with the scenery around the buttes in the Antelope Valley. He homesteaded 160 acres on rocky Piute Butte and in 1928. With his wife and teenage son, he began construction of what was to be a combination home and showcase for his extensive collection of American Indian culture. A unique structure evolved: a Tudor Revival style building, decorated inside and out with American Indian designs and motifs, incorporating large granite boulders as an integral part of the building both inside and out. You actually climb upon these rocks as you go from picturesque Kachina Hall upstairs to California Hall. This unusual upper level housed Mr. Edwards' original "Antelope Valley Indian Research Museum."
History of Grace Oliver
Grace Wilcox Oliver, a onetime student of anthropology, discovered Edwards' property while hiking in the desert. She felt it would be a perfect setting for a personal hideaway. She contacted the owner with an offer to buy the property. Successful in these negotiations, she modified some features of the main building, added her own collections, and expanded the physical facilities on the property. By this time she had decided to open the entire structure as The Antelope Valley Indian Museum. Grace operated the museum intermittently through the 1940s, 50s, 60s & 70s.
Becoming a State Park
Local support for the acquisition of the property by the State of California led Oliver to sell the land and donate the collection to State Parks in 1979. The museum has been designated as a Regional Indian Museum, emphasizing American Indian cultures of the Great Basin.
The park also features a picnic area, historic grounds, historic cottages (not open to the public), and an outdoor ceremonial arena. Around the museum is a 1/2 mile self-guided nature trail; the brochure is available here or in the gift shop. Food is not available for purchase at the park.
The park and museum are open Saturday-Sunday year-round, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., or for group tours on Thursdays with advance reservations.
Accessibility: The museum has accessibility ramps to all levels. An all-terrain wheelchair (manually operated) may be checked out for use on the nature trail.
Our Annual American Indian Celebration is the first weekend of October every year, featuring a traditional ground blessing ceremony, American Indian traditional dancing and music, Indian artists demonstrating and selling their work, Navajo tacos, and special activities for children.
Every December, in celebration of the museum's homestead origins, visitors can enjoy a chili cook-off and live acoustic music at Holidays on the Homestead. The historic grounds are decorated in vintage holiday style, with cowboy poetry sung around a campfire, tours of the grounds, a country craft boutique, and real cowboy coffee brewed over the fire.
The museum also sponsors periodic visiting artists, exclusive hikes, and evening events.
The calendar of upcoming events can be found at http://avim.parks.ca.gov/calendar.shtml and on our Facebook pages at www.Facebook.com/AVIndianMuseum, and www.Facebook.com/IndianMuseumFriends.
Location - Directions
The museum is located in northeastern Los Angeles County. It is 19 miles east of the Antelope Valley Freeway (State Highway 14), at 15701 East Avenue M in Lancaster. Go East on Avenue K to 150th Street East, go south on 150th for 2 miles. Turn left on Ave. M, and go east for 1 mile to the museum. Or exit Pearblossom Highway (138) at 165th Street East and travel north. Bear right as 165th turns into 170th Street East. Continue north on 170th to Avenue M. Turn left on Avenue M, and go west for 1 mile to the museum.
Latitude/Longitude: 34.7506 / -118.3583
The weather can be changeable; layered clothing is recommended.