Japanese American National Museum
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 1, 1999

RaĂșl Vasquez - - 213-625-0414

"The Heart Mountain Story": An Exhibition of Photographs begins Feb. 18 at the Japanese American National Museum

Los Angeles

A collection of poignant, historical photographs taken by two Life Magazine photographers of the Heart Mountain concentration camp in Wyoming will be on display at the Japanese American National Museum’s Legacy Center Gallery beginning on February 18, and continuing until August 22, 1999. Heart Mountain was the designated location of one of the American camps used to unconstitutionally hold Japanese Americans during World War II. The exhibition, entitled The Heart Mountain Story, is curated by former Heart Mountain concentration camp inmate Mamoru Inouye, and will include thirty-eight black and white photographs that have never before been shown in Los Angeles. Hansel Mieth and Otto Hagel, two German photographers working for Life Magazine during World War II, took thirty-five of the photographs in the exhibition.

Hansel Mieth and her husband Otto Hagel were working for Life Magazine when they were assigned to photograph the Heart Mountain camp during World War II, where more than 10,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans were being unconstitutionally incarcerated for the duration of the war. However, their photographs of the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming were never published during the war and remained out of the public’s eye until the 1990s.

The resulting black and white photographs in The Heart Mountain Story capture poignant moments of daily life at the Heart Mountain camp. Taken from a unique, outsider’s perspective, these pictures portray the bitterly cold and desolate living conditions in which Japanese Americans were forced to live in; as well as warm portraits of friends and families living their everyday lives in the camp. Ironically, these photographs were taken by German-born photographers whose sensitive and sympathetic pictures produced a collection of photographs that tell a unique story of the Heart Mountain experience.

The inaugural of this exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum coincides with the Museum’s “Day of Remembrance” programs (February 19 and 20). This is a very special weekend of programming that will honor the draft resisters of conscience during World War II, as well as the key-figures in the coram nobis cases who helped advance the Redress movement for Japanese Americans. Also complementing The Heart Mountain Story is one of the original barracks from the Heart Mountain concentration camp, which is now on display in the Common Ground: The Heart of Community exhibition in the Museum’s Pavilion.

Mamoru Inouye, curator of The Heart Mountain Story, has resided in Los Gatos, California his whole life with the exception of three years from 1942–1945, when he and his family were interned at Heart Mountain. He will moderate a roundtable discussion with friends and biographers of Hansel Mieth and Otto Hagel on Saturday, April 17 at 1 p.m. at the Museum. The Heart Mountain Story exhibit represents a commitment on the part of the Japanese American National Museum to tell Japanese American history from a variety of perspectives.

The Japanese American National Museum is located at 369 East First Street in the Historic Little Tokyo District, Los Angeles. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Admission prices are $6 for Adults, $5 for Seniors (62 and over), $3 for Students and Children over 5, and Free for Members and Children under 5. For more information, please visit our website at or call 213.625.0414.



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