Japanese American National Museum
Past Exhibitions

Past Exhibitions

Humanity Above Nation: The Impact of Manjiro and Heco on America and Japan
May 1 - August 2, 1998

This exhibit explores the lives and careers of two 19th century shipwrecked sailors from Japan who were among the first Japanese to be educated in America and who went on to help shape the relations between the two countries.

From Bento to Mixed Plate: Americans of Japanese Ancestry in Multicultural Hawai'i
March 14, 1998 - January 3, 1999

This exhibition traces the evolution of Japanese American identity in multicultural Hawai‘i as seen through the eyes of the first generation to the present.

Americans of Japanese ancestry (AJAs) share their story through the use of personal artifacts, family photographs, and first-person accounts. Told from an AJA perspective the uniqueness of the Island culture is evident and is truly a story involving all of Hawai‘i’s people.

Hansel Mieth and Otto Hagel

The Heart Mountain Story
February 18, 1998 - August 22, 1999

In January 1943, photographers Hansel Mieth and her husband Otto Hagel were sent on assignment by Life Magazine to photograph the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in northwest Wyoming.

Although they were well known for their sensitive portrayal of migrant farm workers in the 1930s, their Heart Mountain photos went unpublished and remained hidden until 1995, when their photos were displayed at San Francisco’s Vision Gallery. This traveling exhibition organized by former Heart Mountain inmate Mamoru Inouye includes photographs by Mieth and Hagel.

Gift of Hiroshi & Chieko Shikuma Family, Japanese American National Museum (96.164.1). Courtesy of the Kalnicki Family. Courtesy of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Finding Family Stories
January 22 - April 12, 1998

This is the third year of Finding Family Stories, an Arts Partnership Project initiated by the Japanese American National Museum in 1995 to create a dialogue among the diverse communities that shape the state of California.

In collaboration with the Skirball Cultural Center and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, this year’s exhibition presents family stories of the Japanese American, Jewish American, and California Indian communities. Participating artists are Joyce Dallal, Aaron Glass, Eddy Kurushima, Frank LaPena, Judith Lowry, and Kim Yasuda.

Calligraphics by Isamu Noguchi, 1957.

Asian Traditions/Modern Expressions: Asian American Artists and Abstraction, 1945-1970
December 10, 1997 - February 15, 1998

This exhibition features the art of American artists of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean descent who employ traditional Asian art techniques and philosophies to explore abstract art. Isamu Noguchi, George Tsutakawa, Chinyee, and Don Ahn are among the 50 artists included.

Fire Station, c. 1945, Oil on paper.

Kenjiro Nomura: An Artist's View of the Japanese American Internment
October 4, 1997 - January 11, 1998

On April 30, 1942, Kenjiro Nomura, his wife, and son were forcibly removed from their homes in Seattle and incarcerated in the Puyallup Assembly Center. Eventually they were transported, along with nearly 10,000 other Japanese Americans to the Minidoka concentration camp in Hunt, Idaho. At the time of the removal, Nomura was already an established and prolific artist. He worked at various other jobs to support himself financially, including operating a sign painting shop in Seattle. At both Puyallup and Minidoka he worked again as a sign painter and created many images of camp life including landscapes and portraits of daily rituals. Nomura produced a visual record of his experiences with whatever materials he could find, often using industrial paints and government issued paper. This exhibition provides an opportunity to view a portion of this important collection of works.

Asato Yamamoto, Mitsugu Hamanaka and Mitoki Kawaguchi, Fresno, California, June 1938.

Sumo U.S.A.: Wrestling the Grand Tradition
July 3 - November 30, 1997

Though known as the national sport of Japan, sumo has a long history in the United States. Prior to World War II, the story of sumo in the U.S. is a Japanese American one, where it played an important and largely forgotten role in many Japanese American communities in Hawai‘i and on the West Coast.

Whispered Silences: Japanese American Detention Camps, Fifty Years Later
May 3 - September 14, 1997

Whispered Silences features the work of fine-arts photographer Joan Myers who embarked on a journey to photograph all ten World War II War Relocation Authority concentration camps. The result of her odyssey is a series of haunting black and white images of the camps as they appear today and the relics that were left behind.

The Kona Coffee Story: Along the Hawai'i Belt Road
February 9 - June 9, 1997

The Kona Coffee Story tells the story of the coffee growing industry of Kona on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, from the arrival of the first coffee plants in 1828 to the poignant stories of the Japanese American coffee pioneers living today.

Collection of The Rafu Shimpo (NRC.1997.57.1)

Dear Miss Breed: Letters from Camp
January 14 - April 13, 1997

This exhibition highlights the JANM’s collection of letters written to San Diego librarian Clara Breed by Japanese Americans incarcerated in World War II concentration camps.

Miss Breed, as she was known to the teenagers and young adults who wrote to her, was a lifeline to the outside world who comforted internees during their time of need. Viewers will be reminded of the significance of camp through the reflections of teenagers who lived through the experience. A model of the Manzanar concentration camp constructed by model maker Robert Hasuike will also be on display.



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