Japanese American National Museum

Published: May 17th 2017
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I have long wanted to visit this museum in Los Angeles, but until today, May 13, never found the right opportunity. I found it today, by attending the Asian Pacific Islanders and Historic Preservation Community Symposium at the museum.

Among the current exhibits:

New Frontiers: The Many Worlds of George Takei
March 12 - August 20, 2017

New Frontiers: The Many Worlds of George Takei explores the life and career of pioneering actor, activist, and social media icon George Takei. By examining Takei’s diverse experiences and achievements, this entertaining and interactive exhibition creates a portrait of a unique individual while offering an innovative means of engaging with the social history of America.

GK: His YouTube conversations about Relocation are very interesting too!

Instructions to All Persons: Reflections on Executive Order 9066
February 18 - August 13, 2017

On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which paved the way for the forced removal and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast following Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of this historic miscarriage of justice, the Japanese American National Museum presents Instructions to All Persons: Reflections on Executive Order 9066, an educational and interactive exhibition designed to engage visitors in critical discussions of the Japanese American World War II experience and its continuing relevance today.

GK: Every time I hear 9066, I try to imagine what it would have been like. Probably both terrifying, upsetting, and downright scary!

ON THE ROAD at Harvard Medical School—Before They Were Heroes: Sus Ito’s World War II Images
May 3 - June 26, 2017

Susumu “Sus” Ito’s WWII photographs were taken while on a tour of duty through Europe as a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team’s 522nd Field Artillery Battalion. While Ito participated in such dramatic events as the rescue of the Lost Battalion, these rare and breathtaking images capture the humble daily lives of a group of young Japanese American soldiers.

March 23 – August 11, 2017
Daily from sunset to midnight

In conjunction with the exhibition Instructions to All Persons: Reflections on Executive Order 9066, JANM presents Moving Day, an outdoor public art installation. The work consists of a series of projections of the Civilian Exclusion Orders that were publicly posted during World War II to inform persons of Japanese ancestry of their impending forced removal and incarceration. Each projection will coincide with the 75th anniversary date of the specific exclusion order. Projections will take place on the façade of the museum’s Historic Building, the site of Los Angeles’s first Buddhist temple and a pickup point for Japanese Americans bound for concentration camps during World War II.
Reflecting back to my childhood, and even college days, little was said about Relocation camp. Little was said by our families, and little was said among my Sansei (third generation Japanese-Americans) college friends and relatives. I wish we would have learned more from them, and each other. But it is never too late! My visit to the museum will help bridge some information gaps in my and my parents lives. The museum is affiliated with the Smithsonian. It contains over 130 years of Japanese American history. Since my Grandfather came from Japan to the U.S. in 1897, that would be about 120 years for our family. Established in 1992, their film archives holds over 250 home movies, and continues to grow. The idea of the museum began with a group of people led by Bruce Kaji. It was first housed in a 1925 historic Buddhist Temple, with Irene Hirano as the Executive Director. That very temple was used to process Japanese Americans for confinement in 1942. Famous Star Trek actor, George Takei serves on the Board of Trustees. In 1993, the museum was given hundreds of artifacts and letters from children from Relocation camps that were sent to San Diego librarian, Clara Breed. Through the years, others have contributed money and ideas for furthering the learning experience at the museum. I certainly hope to be one of them!!! The most meaningful exhibit was the re-creation of the barracks, made of original wood slats and black tar paper. To live like that, in the extreme heat of the desert, or the swamps of Arkansas is truly in-American. How could a country treat its citizens that way? The lesson: it could happen again!!!

Additional photos below
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