Japanese American National Museum
Current Exhibitions

Current Exhibitions

Contested Histories: Art and Artifacts from the Allen Hendershott Eaton Collection
January 7 - April 8, 2018


Allen Hendershott Eaton’s historic 1952 book, Beauty Behind Barbed Wire: The Arts of the Japanese in Our War Relocation Camps, explored art and craft objects created by persons of Japanese descent while wrongfully incarcerated in the World War II American concentration camps. It was one of the first books to examine any aspect of the lives of the 120,000 inmates. In the course of conducting research for the book and a never-realized exhibition of camp artifacts, Eaton amassed a significant personal collection of such artifacts.

After many years of lying forgotten in storage, the collection was inherited by a family friend of Eaton’s, who in April 2015 attempted to put it up for auction. An outcry arose from Japanese American community leaders and activists, who rallied successfully to stop the insensitive sale of these important artifacts of Japanese American history. Ultimately, the collection was transferred to the Japanese American National Museum for safekeeping. With support from the National Park Service’s Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program, the collection has now been conserved and will be exhibited in the museum’s Hirasaki National Resource Center (HNRC) as a special display titled Contested Histories: Art and Artifacts from the Allen Hendershott Eaton Collection.

Eduardo Tokeshi, <em>Bandera Uno</em>, 1985, latex on canvas.

Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and São Paulo
September 17, 2017 - February 25, 2018

Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and São Paulo will examine the experiences of artists of Japanese ancestry born, raised, or living in either Latin America or predominantly Latin American neighborhoods of Southern California. Their methods of making art are diverse, from traditional to experimental, and the work itself illustrates perspectives of the Japanese Latin American experience directly, metaphorically, and/or abstractly. The exhibition will show how homeland, ethnic communities, racial mixing, and cosmopolitanism inform the creativity and aesthetics of this hybrid culture. It will also provide a visual record of contemporary Japanese Latin American art and contribute to the understanding of identity in a world where the meaning of race and ethnicity are constantly evolving.

Sadako’s Crane


Born in Hiroshima, Japan, Sadako Sasaki was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on the city. When she was twelve, she contracted leukemia and was hospitalized. One of her roommates at the hospital told her about the Japanese belief that anyone who folds one thousand cranes would be granted a wish, so Sadako began folding cranes with the hope of recovering from her disease. Sadly, although she folded 1,300 cranes, she died on October 25, 1955.

Common Ground: The Heart of Community

Incorporating hundreds of objects, documents, and photographs collected by the Japanese American National Museum, this exhibition chronicles 130 years of Japanese American history, beginning with the early days of the Issei pioneers through the World War II incarceration to the present.



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