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Japanese American National Museum

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Museums

Mission: The mission of the japanese american national museum (the national museum) is to promote understanding and appreciation of america's ethic and cultural diversity by sharing the japanese american experience.

Programs: Collectionspioneering actor and passionate civil rights activist george takei, along with husband brad takei, donated his personal collection, representing the many facets of his life and career, to the museum in september 2016. The george and brad takei collection features a wide range of two- and three-dimensional artifacts that demonstrate the magnitude and breadth of takei's accomplishments. The collection served as the foundation of the 2017 exhibition, new frontiers: the many worlds of george takei. Utilizing a total of more than $115,000 from two national park service japanese american confinement sites grants for 2016, the japanese american national museum (janm) began conservation work last fall on the allen hendershott eaton collection of art and artifacts, and also began digitization of the gihachi and tsugio yamashita collection for an interactive website that chronicles one family's journeys during world war ii. In addition to these publicly announced developments, the collections management and access unit kept busy with a variety of projects, which during this fiscal year included: completing the collections management policy, collections plan, and other documents pertaining to the reaccreditation process; completing an assessment of onsite collections as part of the aam reaccreditation process; working on a conservation survey of the extensive henry sugimoto collection; processing the mine okubo papers; and creating finding aids for the buddhist churches of america records. Regular, ongoing responsibilities of the department include handling, processing, installing, labeling, and de-installing incoming art and artifacts for janm's temporary exhibitions; requesting loans of artifacts from other institutions; processing loans of janm holdings to other institutions; handling requests from researchers, filmmakers, and publishers for access to janm's archives; handling image licensing requests; digitizing numerous items from the collection for online access; and reviewing proposed donations to the collection, among other duties. Exhibitionstatau: marks of polynesiajuly 30, 2016-january 8, 2017tatau: marks of polynesia explored samoan tattoo practice through photographs that showcased the work of traditional tatau masters alongside more contemporary manifestations of the art form. Curated by author and master tattoo artist takahiro "ryudaibori" kitamura with photography by john agcaoili, tatau highlighted the beauty of the samoan tattoo tradition as well as its key role in the preservation and propagation of samoan culture. Through exhibitions like tatau, janm continues its work of promoting understanding of diverse cultures. The artistry of kubo: a magical laika experience august 13-30, 2016temporary display in aratani central halllaika, the award-winning animation studio whose movie, kubo and the two strings, opened on august 19, 2016, presented the artistry of kubo: a magical laika experience in janm's aratani central hall. Visitors got a behind-the-scenes interactive peek at kubo and the two strings through puppets, sets, props, monsters, origami, and costumes from the production. Uprooted: japanese american farm labor camps during world war iiseptember 27, 2016-january 8, 2017between 1942 and 1944, thousands of incarcerated japanese americans were moved from concentration camps to farm labor camps as a way to mitigate the wartime labor shortage. In the summer of 1942, farm security administration (fsa) photographer russell lee documented four such camps in oregon and idaho, capturing the laborers' day-to-day lives in evocative detail. Uprooted: japanese american farm labor camps during world war ii presented a selection of those images, many of which have never before been exhibited. Special displaysebastian masuda's time after time capsulenovember 1, 2016-january 29, 2017time after time capsule is a traveling art project that invites people around the world to contribute cherished personal items to fill 10 nine-foot-tall, translucent hello kitty time capsule sculptures. At each stop on the capsules' tour, the local community is invited to contribute colorfully decorated items of personal value to one of the time capsules. All 10 of these sculptures will later be gathered in tokyo to mark the tokyo 2020 olympics, and fashioned into a monumental art piece for public viewing. In 2035, each sculpture will be returned to the cities where they were filled, and project participants will be able to reunite with the personal items they contributed years before. Special displayonly the oaks remain: the story of tuna canyon detention stationdecember 10, 2016-april 9, 2017this special display told the true stories of those targeted as dangerous enemy aliens and imprisoned in the tuna canyon detention station, located in the tujunga neighborhood of los angeles, by the us department of justice during world war ii. Rare artifacts such as photographs, letters, and diaries brought the experiences of imprisoned japanese, german, and italian immigrants and japanese peruvians to life. Instructions to all persons: reflections on executive order 9066february 18-august 13, 2017presented in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the signing of executive order 9066, which paved the way for the world war ii incarceration of 120,000 japanese americans, instructions to all persons: reflections on executive order 9066 was an educational and interactive exhibition designed to engage visitors in critical discussions of the japanese american incarceration experience and its continuing relevance today. Original documents, contemporary artworks, and documentary videos formed the substance of the exhibition; included were two pages of the original executive order 9066, on loan from the national archives. New frontiers: the many worlds of george takeimarch 12-august 20, 2017new frontiers: the many worlds of george takei explored the life and career of pioneering actor, activist, and social media icon george takei. By examining takei's diverse experiences and achievements, this entertaining and interactive exhibition created a portrait of a unique individual while offering an innovative means of engaging with the social history of america. New frontiers was curated by noted author, journalist, and cultural critic jeff yang. Janm-organized exhibitions continued to travel to venues around the world during fy17, representing a significant source of revenue for the museum. These included perseverance: japanese tattoo tradition in a modern world, which traveled to middlebury, vermont; sydney and newcastle, australia; and christchurch, new zealand; and before they were heroes: sus ito's world war ii images, which traveled to boston, massachusetts. Public programsin fy17, janm offered 140 public programs that served a total of 20,715 people. These included family festivals, craft workshops, talks, panel discussions, book readings, film screenings, walking tours, concerts, and a variety of other activities. Several of these events were community partnerships and collaborations with such entities as visual communications, collaboration, nikkei genealogical society, east west players, los angeles international tea festival, go for broke national education center, little tokyo historical society, and asian american journalists association, among others. Particularly popular programs included janm summer night concerts, natsumatusuri family festival, oshogatsu family festival, tatau opening day celebration, day of remembrance, okaeri 2016: a nikkei lgbtq gathering, comedy invasian, memories of five nisei, k-town reporters community screening event, reconstructing memories: an art workshop with mike saijo, nick ut: beyond napalm girl, and the los angeles asian pacific film festival. All of these programs were near or beyond capacity.

janm store and janmstore. Comthe janm store was the proud recipient of a 2017 museum store association (msa) recognition award for product development. The award recognized the instructions to all persons product line, which includes a tote bag and a t-shirt. Inspired by the civilian exclusion orders posted during world war ii to inform persons of japanese ancestry of their impending forced removal and incarceration, these products perfectly embody the museum's mission to promote understanding and appreciation of america's ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the japanese american experience. Maria kwong, janm's director of retail enterprises and a current msa board member, accepted the award at the msa conference & expo in april. She also wrote an essay about how she came to develop these products, which was published on both the msa blog and the janm museum blog. As planned for fy17, the store undertook a long-overdue upgrade to its 20-year-old point-of-sale system. The transition to retail star began in july 2016, with the goal of being ready for the upcoming catalog season. It went smoothly, with a reasonable amount of tweaking. By the end of the fiscal year, store staff were able to complete the year-end inventory without any major problems. Following are high points in sales throughout the fiscal year. The kubo special display and the opening of tatau: marks of polynesia in july 2016 were responsible for onsite sales that were 45% higher than the same period in the previous year. Kubo merchandise accounted for about 13% of sales in the first two months of fy17. With the tatau exhibition opening, the availability of the new catalog (with very high profit margins) accounted for a boost to online sales as well. Before the end of august, we had recouped our expenses for the total print run of tatau catalogs by selling less than a third of the catalogs. Between sales of the instructions t-shirts and the new instructions poster, we had the best february revenue month in years (only exceeded by figures from february 2015, when hello! Exploring the supercute world of hello kitty was up, and february 2001, at the close of allen say's journey: the art and words of a children's book author). In may, we had our first citron trunk show during member appreciation days. It was successful enough that we are bringing them back for the holiday edition of member appreciation days in november. Overall, in spite of the fact that our net sales in fy17 were $24,670 lower than the previous year, our dollar margin (i. E. Profit) was actually $1,470 higher than last year. This is due to the better profit margin we have on museum-produced products, such as the instructions products and the tatau catalog, which all sold well.

education and visitor engagementin fy17, total attendance at janm was 105,022. Of this number, 35,845 were museum walk-ins. The school visits program welcomed 20,962 students and teachers, who participated in educational programming held in the museum's main building and the adjoining national center for the preservation of democracy. As a response to recent public policy initiatives that pose potential threats to immigrant communities, the museum's first "teach-in" took place on december 8, 2016. We invited three speakers to share their perspectives. Janm volunteer mas yamashita spoke about being incarcerated as a child during world war ii in topaz, utah; betty hung of asian americans advancing justice-los angeles provided an overview of the political climate; and mary hendra of facing history and ourselves shared ideas for encouraging dialogue between students and teachers. What emerged was a shared understanding that teachers, school administrators, and community organizations like janm must combine our efforts to ensure that our students feel safe. Later that same month, allyson nakamoto, director of education, and lynn yamasaki, school programs developer, joined five members of janm's board of trustees and board of governors to attend the white house's program, "generational experiences of aapi and muslim, arab, sikh, and south asian (massa) communities. " the white house staff modeled this program in part after the successful national youth summit that the education unit co-hosted with the smithsonian's national museum of american history in may 2016. The program featured high school and college students from around the country who are working to positively impact their communities. We left inspired and even more grateful to educators who bring their students to visit janm in order to learn from the past and become leaders who can stand up against hatred and discrimination. In january 2017, the education unit facilitated a four-week series of public conversations that took place within common ground: the heart of community and were centered on the themes of compassion, transparency, speaking out, and solidarity. Each conversation generated meaningful dialogue among guests, utilizing japanese american history and the artifacts on display in the exhibition to delve into contemporary issues and concerns. We were energized to hear visitors' thoughts on these themes and their relevance to their own lives and to contemporary events. Building on the post-election teach-in and janm's instructions to all persons exhibition, we hosted a teacher workshop for los angeles-area k-12 teachers in march. This event reached its maximum capacity of 25 teachers just 1 weeks after registration opened. The teachers explored instructions to all persons and learned about the japanese american, arab american, latinx, and mixed race experiences. Special guest isra el-bashir, curator of education and public programming at the arab american national museum, facilitated a dialogue on citizenship and belonging. At the end of the workshop, one teacher commented:janm consistently does a wonderful job making the story of the japanese internment come to life. . . In these divisive times, it is more important than ever for museums like janm to continue sharing history with communities. Media artsthe frank h. Watase media arts center (mac) continued to provide janm with a comprehensive program of digital media production and presentation; documentation and preservation; and education and training. Productions during fy17 included an introductory video for the exhibition instructions to all persons: reflections on executive order 9066 that included poignant excerpts from video coverage of the 1981 los angeles hearings of the commission on wartime relocation and internment of civilians. To promote the exhibition and the community day of remembrance, akira boch and evan kodani of mac staff created short videos posted on facebook by team takei, george takei's social media consultants. These two videos have logged more than 1. 2 million views since posting in february. Mac staff also created three videos for the exhibition new frontiers: the many worlds of george takei, presenting highlights of the life and career of the actor, activist and social media icon. For the past two years, janm's exhibition staff has researched and developed transpacific borderlands: the art of japanese diaspora in lima, los angeles, mexico city and s o paulo, an exhibition that is part of the getty foundation's regional pacific standard time project. Preparation included extensive video interviews of participating artists by curators working with janm's media arts center. During the exhibition, video clips of these artists will be made accessible on the museum's discover nikkei website and youtube channel. Staff also added five major life history interviews to the museum archive of first person narratives about the japanese american experience. The team is presently processing these interviews for uploading in the upcoming year: frank h. Watase, 93 (for whom janm's watase media arts center is named); frank seiyu higashi, 98; jim matsuoka, 82; and james "jim" makoto tajiri, 91. Mac staff also recorded a conversation with founding members of the montebello womens club: sakaye aratani, linda fujioka, yae aihara and elsie uyematsu osajima. The media arts center collaborated with june aochi berk and kanji sahara of the tuna canyon detention station coalition to videotape life histories of descendants of those interned at the station by the u. S. Government during world war ii. Selected clips of these interviews were included in only the oaks remain: the tuna canyon detention traveling exhibition. Mac staff also worked on interviews with mimi sasaki, tohru isobe, sisters francis kuraoka and grace hatchimonji, bacon sakatani, shinya honda, and james iso. In addition, media arts specialist akira boch conducted interviews in japanese with paulo issamu hirano and antonio shinkiti shikota during a visit to tokyo. Mac staff was also responsible for licensing of janm's moving image collection and negotiated a major licensing agreement with tule lake documentary project. (through a partnership agreement, janm's original films are stored at the academy film archive of the academy of motion picture arts and sciences; lynne kirste, special collections curator, provides invaluable assistance in monitoring digitization of home movies, ensuring that the digitized files meet the academy's rigorous preservation standards. ) as in past years, mac worked with the getty multicultural undergraduate internship program to mentor and instruct a student during the summer months. For 10 weeks, karina kawana, a digital media major at the university of southern california, worked closely with mac on a variety of projects and made significant creative contributions to janm's media presentations. Mac staff worked with public programs coordinator, elizabeth lim, to record, process and archive programs and events for future use in marketing, gala program, discover nikkei content and member services. Documentation included family free days, panel discussions, author book signings and lectures, screenings, curator tours of exhibitions, performances, and special events such as the oshogatsu family festival and the natsumatsuri. Excerpts were included in special compilation videos produced for janm's annual gala fundraiser in may 2017, and selected programs were made accessible by the public through the museum's youtube channel, janmdotorg. Discover nikkeijanm's discover nikkei project is a major online resource that brings together the voices and experiences of nikkei (japanese emigrants and their descendants) who have created communities throughout the world. The multilingual website-available in english, japanese, spanish, and portuguese-documents nikkei history and culture and provides learning and networking tools for nikkei around the world. After 11 years in operation, discover nikkei currently hosts more than 2,500 stories from over 750 writers worldwide; more than 1,300 video clips from nearly 200 interviews discussing experiences in the united states, canada, japan, peru, argentina, brazil, paraguay, and chile; and over 350 nikkei albums. During fy17, discover nikkei recorded 431,914 visitors (541,267 sessions), a dramatic increase from the previous year (334,043 visitors with 414,842 sessions). This increase was due to several very popular articles in the journal section. The top five countries of visitors were the united states, japan, mexico, peru, and brazil. In this reporting period, the team focused specifically on the development of the journal and interview sections that have been our most effective program components in successfully sharing the diverse, global experiences of nikkei individuals and communities.

Community Stories

1 Story from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters



Rating: 5

I've been supporting this organization for years and fully support their mission and goals.
They provide not only a physical museum in Los Angeles , but have touring educational displays to bring the story of Japanese Americans to areas of the US.
The story of what happened to Japanese Americans during World War 2 needs to be told, not only for the sake of those who experienced it, but as a cautionary tale of what could happen for any other ethnic/religious/ racial group in the face of racial hatred , hysteria and lack of political leadership.

Review from Guidestar