"When Words Weren’t Enough: Works on Paper from Topaz, 1942-1945"
January 29, 2015
The Topaz Museum in Delta, Utah has opened with an inaugural art exhibition, When Words Weren’t Enough: Works on Paper from Topaz, 1942-1945. Drawing from the museum’s permanent collection, the exhibition features artists who contributed greatly to the art and culture of the Topaz War Relocation Authority Camp that confined people of Japanese descent from 1942-1945. Through a remarkably varied selection of works on paper, this exhibition showcases the talent of Japanese American artists such as Miné Okubo, Chiura Obata, Charles Erabu Suiko Mikami, and Setsu Nagata Kanehara.
Ranging in style, subject and form, the works provide fascinating insight into the diverse voices and talents of the people at Topaz. In spite of unimaginable circumstances, an art school with nearly 600 students was started by Chiura Obata, who, prior to the war, had been an instructor at UC Berkeley. Under his leadership, students painted with strength and distinction, guided by 16 instructors teaching 23 different classes.
After decades of racial prejudice, followed by the bombing of Pearl Harbor that initiated America into the Second World War, the United States government ordered all persons of Japanese ancestry living along the West Coast to leave their homes and were sent to ten confinement centers scattered throughout the country, often located in sparse and desolate regions. Topaz had a peak population of 8,300, making it Utah’s fifth largest city. In 1984, a federal commission ruled that the camps were a product of “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” Now, 72 years later, Japanese American artists are being recognized for their contribution and skill, in a museum located near the site where their art was created.
Curated by Scotti Hill, the exhibition looks forward to sharing its powerful and imperative message with the public.
About the Topaz Museum
The permanent exhibit will be open in March. Watch this website for the specific date. The new museum was designed by Sparano and Mooney Architects of Salt Lake City and constructed by Westland Construction of Orem, Utah.
Location, Hours and Contact:
The Topaz Museum is located on 55 West Main, Delta Utah. Call to confirm we are open 435-864-2514. Hours of Operation: 11:00 to 5:00 Monday through Saturday.
The exhibition is now open with the art show. Watch for the announcement when the museum will close to install the permanent exhibit. Come and see the art show before it closes later this year.
The Topaz site is open daily; please do not remove any artifacts. 10000 West 4500 North, Delta, Utah.
For more information see the Facebook page Japanese American Internment Camp Museum.
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Museum opening delayed until 2017
August 28, 2014
The Topaz Museum Board has moved the opening of the museum to 2017.
An Exhibit Advisory Committee has been formed to review revisions to the text. The members of the committee are Dr. Franklin Odo, Nancy Araki, Dr. Cherstin Lyon, and Dr. Greg Robinson.
In June the National Park Service awarded the Topaz Museum Board a $497,000 matching grant from the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program which will be used to manufacture and install the Topaz exhibits.
The Board hired Sarah Bartlett to revise the exhibit text. Sarah has an MA in Museum Studies from University College in London and was the text writer for the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center in Powell, WY.
With the completion of the construction of the museum building in Delta, the Board is glad to now be working toward the completion of the exhibits in 2017.