Utah's Topaz museum for Japanese-American detainees receives money

Published: Thursday, March 22 2012 1:24 p.m. MDT

DELTA — The National Park Service is awarding $714,314 to help in the construction of a museum and education center recognizing the detention of Japanese Americans during World War II.

The Topaz Museum will use the awarded funds to help construct an 8,254-square-foot museum and education center in Delta, which will house exhibits, an art gallery, research library, bookstore, and curatorial and other space. The museum foundation has secured 600 acres for the site of the new museum and obtained thousands of dollars in donations from the San Francisco Bay area, where the the majority of detainees came from.

The project is designed to enhance the understanding and promote the preservation of  the Topaz camp where more than 11,000 people were interned. Plans call for housing a collection of more than 1,000 artifacts, 70 pieces of artwork created by internees, more than 35 video interviews, and a significant number of books.

A recreation hall from Block 42 at Topaz also will be located at the new center. The camp site, 16 miles from Delta, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2007.

“If we are to tell the full story of America, we must ensure that we include difficult chapters such as the grave injustice of internment of Japanese Americans during World War II,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. “The internment sites serve as poignant reminders for us — and for the generations to come — that we must always be vigilant in upholding civil liberties for all.”

The incarceration of thousands of Japanese Americans, two-thirds of them American citizens, followed Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

“These places, where more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were unjustly held, testify to the fragility of our constitutional rights in the face of fear and prejudice,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “The National Park Service is honored to help preserve these sites and tell their stories, and thus prevent our nation from forgetting or repeating a shameful episode in its past.”

The project is part of a larger program of 17 grants across 11 states totaling nearly $2.9 million. With this year’s grants, the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, now in its fourth year, has awarded nearly $9.7 million in funds since Congress established the $38 million program in 2006.

E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com Twitter: amyjoi16

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