FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 16, 2021

PRESS CONTACTS:

Joseph Duong - jduong@janm.org - 213-830-5690

THE JAPANESE AMERICAN NATIONAL MUSEUM AWARDED NATIONAL PARK SERVICE GRANT TO EXPAND EXHIBITION OF THE EATON COLLECTION OF ART AND ARTIFACTS


LOS ANGELES - The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) has been awarded a grant of $245,581 from the US Department of the Interior, National Park Service (NPS) through the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program (JACS). 

This grant will fund a comprehensive exhibition of the Allen Hendershott Eaton Collection and its legacy at JANM in 2022, followed by travel to four other U.S. museums.

This JACS grant continues the vigilant efforts to protect and conserve the Eaton Collection – art and artifacts from Japanese American WWII concentration camps – that was set for a 2015 auction until activists and legal action stopped the sale. JANM acquired the entire Eaton Collection in 2015.

“As stewards of the Eaton Collection, we are grateful for the partnership with the National Park Service and for their support of an enhanced exhibition of these important historic artifacts and art works,” said Ann Burroughs, President and CEO of JANM. “The Museum’s first pop-up tour of a small number of these artifacts traveled to 15 sites in 2018.  This JACS grant will enable JANM to exhibit these priceless pieces across the country with its upcoming 2022 exhibition Contested Histories: Preserving and Sharing a Community Collection.”

The 2022 exhibition will also feature Eaton objects that were too fragile to travel in the first tour, including two Estelle Ishigo oil paintings, calligraphic works on paper, and shellwork, that will be displayed for the first time since their acquisition.

The story of the Eaton Collection dates back to the World War II camps and beyond, when  many camp survivors and their families donated works of art and furniture to Allen Hendershott Eaton, an art historian who was conducting research for his 1952 book, “Beauty Behind Barbed Wire: The Arts of the Japanese in Our War Relocation Camps.” 

The art works and artifacts remained in storage for many years, eventually ending up with an unnamed family friend of Eaton’s heirs who opted to auction all the objects in April 2015. 

The proposed auction ignited a spirited fight by the Japanese American community to protect the collection and keep it intact in the hands of a responsible party. Legal action and a national grassroots campaign halted the sale. JANM was able to acquire the entire holdings and ensure its safekeeping and accessibility for posterity. 

In 2016, JANM received a JACS grant from the NPS for the digitization, condition assessment and/or conservation of the Eaton artifacts. A 2017 JACS grant funded JANM’s development and implementation of a traveling collections-based display to gather information at 15 sites of interest, including former camp sites, community centers, and libraries.

Additional support for the Eaton Collection was provided by George and Brad Takei, the Earle K. & Katherine F. (Muto) Moore Foundation, and Richard Sakai.

This year’s JACS grant will further fulfill the promise made by Allen Hendershott Eaton to the Japanese American community, and to the incarcerees who donated these artifacts, that the collection would be exhibited. A key goal of the collection was to raise awareness of the injustice Japanese Americans endured during World War II. 


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Established in 1985, JANM promotes understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. Located in the historic Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles, JANM is a hybrid institution that straddles traditional museum categories and strives to provide a voice for Japanese Americans as well as a forum that enables all people to explore their own heritage and culture. Since opening to the public in 1992, JANM has presented over 70 exhibitions onsite while traveling 17 exhibits to venues such as the Smithsonian Institution and the Ellis Island Museum in the United States, and to several leading cultural museums in Japan and South America. For more information, visit janm.org or follow us on social media @jamuseum.