Japanese American National Museum
Past Exhibitions

Past Exhibitions

ON THE ROAD at the National Museum of Ethnology—From Bento to Mixed Plate: Americans of Japanese Ancestry in Multicultural Hawai'i
April 19 - August 28, 2001


National Museum of Ethnology
Osaka, Japan

Following its successful international debut in Okinawa, From Bento to Mixed Plate will continue its travel throughout Japan with its opening at the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka. This exhibition has been re-designed for the Japanese speaking visitor to share the historical and personal stories of Hawai‘i’s AJA (Americans of Japanese ancestry) communities through photographs, artifacts, text, and video. It also serves as a window through which visitors can observe the general transformation of Hawai’i from an ethnically stratified society to its multicultural present.

Henry Sugimoto Self Portrait in Camp, 1943.

Henry Sugimoto: Painting an American Experience
March 24 - October 7, 2001

At the age of 19, Henry Sugimoto left Japan to make his life in America. Determined to become an artist, he studied in the San Francisco Bay Area and exhibited nationally and internationally.When he was unjustly incarcerated at 42 in the Jerome and Rohwer concentration camps in Arkansas, the experience irreversibly affected how he viewed himself, his art, and the Japanese American experience. The only thing that remained constant was his desire to paint.

This retrospective survey features works from the National Museum’s extensive collection of Sugimoto’s paintings, prints, drawings, and writing, and spans the entirety of his prolific career as an artist. Henry Sugimoto: Painting an American Experience tells the compelling story of an immigrant, a Japanese American, and an artist.

For a Greener Tomorrow: Japanese American Gardeners in Southern California
October 28, 2000 - May 1, 2001

Barred from leasing farmland in the early 1900s, many Japanese immigrants traveled from California’s countryside to the cities and turned to another kind of farming—gardening.

This profession sustained Japanese Americans when they returned from concentration camps and also Japan after the war. A display, co-sponsored by the Southern California Gardeners’ Federation, surveys the gardeners. 100 years of contributions to create a “greener tomorrow” for all Japanese Americans and the larger Southern California community. The 45th Convention of the Southern California Gardeners’ Federation will take place at the New Otani Hotel in Little Tokyo in October 2000.

Allen Say's Journey: The Art and Words of a Children's Book Author
July 28, 2000 - February 11, 2001

Allen Say’s Journey: The Art and Words of a Children’s Book Author is the first retrospective exhibition of the art of Allen Say, award-winning children’s book author and illustrator. His drawings, watercolor paintings, and prose explore themes of longing, belonging, and the meaning of “home.” Through the internal conflicts of his characters and their search for identity and self-discovery, one can glimpse into Say’s own life journey.

Diamonds in the Rough: Japanese Americans in Baseball
May 6 - July 16, 2000

Diamonds in the Rough: Japanese Americans in Baseball presents the hidden history of Japanese American baseball, from the turn-of-the-century Issei teams to the present-day legacies. This exhibition adds an important voice to the annals of baseball history.

With artifacts, photographs, video, and a diorama of Zenimura Field at Gila River concentration camp, it demonstrates how the history of Japanese American baseball reflects the cycles of discrimination and acceptance that have defined the entire Japanese American experience.

Zebra baseball team at Heart Mountain, Wyoming concentration camp, 1944.

More Than a Game: Sport in the Japanese American Community
March 4, 2000 - February 18, 2001

More Than a Game: Sport in the Japanese American Community tells the story of one immigrant group through the universally popular topic of sport.

From initial immigration in the late 1800s through incarceration during World War II and the triumph of the 1952 Olympics where four Japanese Americans won a total of seven medals, the exhibition reveals a unique and, often untold, perspective on how sport influenced and impacted the evolution of the Japanese American community.

An American Diary: Paintings by Roger Shimomura
October 8, 1999 - January 16, 2000

Issei (first generation Japanese American) “picture bride” Toku Shimomura began a diary in 1912, the year of her immigration to the United States, and continued writing until her death in 1963.

Her poignant observations, which chart her and her family’s experiences during the World War II incarceration in Puyallup, Washington and Minidoka, Idaho have inspired this series of paintings and prints created by her grandson Roger Shimomura, painter and University of Kansas professor.

Re-Visioning Manzanar: Selections from the Permanent Collection
September 24, 1999 - October 7, 2001

Manzanar, one of the ten War Relocation Authority concentration camps, has been the subject of multiple interpretations over the last fifty years. Culled from the permanent collection of the Japanese American National Museum, this exhibition also features work by Ansel Adams, Robert Hasuike, and Masumi Hayashi.

New additions to this exhibition include the recent acquisition of American Families, a weaving by Nisei artist Momo Nagano, which is a tribute to nearly 200 Japanese American friends and neighbors who were relocated from their 30th Street neighborhood in Los Angeles. Woven into this poignant work of art are the family names of those impacted by the evacuation of their Los Angeles neighborhood.

'Study for a Self-Portait, c. 1944'.

A Process of Reflection: Paintings by Hisako Hibi
July 27, 1999 - January 30, 2000

In May 1942, Issei artist Hisako Hibi (1907–1991) and her family were sent to U.S. concentration camps along with over 120,000 other Japanese Americans. An active artist in the Bay Area, Hibi continued to paint during her three years in the Topaz, Utah concentration camp. Her World War II incarceration paintings miraculously survived several decades, including a move to New York City and then to San Francisco.

This exhibition of selected paintings by this important artist sheds light on her early career and this crucial historical period.

'Land of Projection, 1992'.

Bruce and Norman Yonemoto: Memory, Matter, and Modern Romance
January 23 - July 4, 1999

This provocative exhibition surveys the film, video, and video installation art of Bruce and Norman Yonemoto, Los Angeles-based, Sansei (third generation Japanese American) brothers who have worked collaboratively since 1976.

The first comprehensive exhibition of their career, it includes a newly commissioned piece, Silicon Valley, which combines dramatic projection of archival film footage of the atomic bomb blast, television commercials, and clips from Hollywood movies.



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