Museum acquires WWII artifacts

The Japanese American National Museum announced at its gala May 2 that it has acquired hundreds of items made by former prisoners of American wartime concentration camps.

The Rago Arts and Auction Center in New Jersey had planned on auctioning some 400 artifacts from the late Allen Eaton’s collection April 17, but halted the sale just “hours” after the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation’s legal counsel “communicated their intent to file a lawsuit,” the foundation said in a statement issued April 15.

The Japanese American National Museum said in a statement issued May 2 that the “acquisition ensures these artifacts will be properly preserved and honors the interests of Japanese Americans across the country who expressed concern for the future of these items.”

The museum “worked through Rago … and the consignor to acquire the private collection, which includes artifacts and photographs collected by Allen Hendershott Eaton who wrote a book in 1952 publicizing the injustice of America’s concentration camps for Japanese Americans, where more than 120,000 men, women, and children were kept behind barbed wire by their own country.”

JANM President and CEO Greg Kimura said in the statement that he was “very pleased” that the museum, Rago “and the John Ryan family of Connecticut, which possessed the artifacts, were able to reach an agreement that reflects our mutual interests. We all want to see these items appropriately preserved.”

Actor and activist George Takei, who, along with his family was incarcerated during the war, “agreed to act as an intermediary” between Rago  and  Japanese American community institutions,  the “Japanese American History: NOT for Sale” Facebook page said.

While some community members have applauded Takei and the museum’s efforts, others remain concerned. The Ad Hoc Committee to Oppose the Sale of Japanese American Historical Artifacts posted on the aforementioned Facebook page that “There are reasons to celebrate, but our work is not finished.  …”

The committee said a conference call it had with Kimura and members of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation and the Wing Luke Museum, which was moderated by Franklin Odo, the founding director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Center, was “a good start” to “work through the many complicated issues in determining the proper home for our history. … Although money was exchanged, the price and terms of the transaction are protected in a nondisclosure agreement, according to Greg Kimura.”

The post states that “questions will inevitably arise regarding the proper home for the items, especially for those which can be shown to have direct connections to survivors or descendants,” the committee said.

Moreover, “the items up for auction were only a fraction of the original collection shown in Eaton’s book. We don’t know what happened to the rest,” the committee’s post states.

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Kyplex Cloud Security Seal - Click for Verification