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Topaz Museum receives NPS grant

 Delta, UT --- The Topaz Museum Board (TMB) has received a $714,314 grant from the National Park Service (NPS) for a capital outlay project to build the Topaz Museum and Education Center.  The ground breaking ceremony will be Aug. 4, 2012 in Delta, Utah.  The Board has been conducting a capital campaign in order to complete the $2.3 million project.

The Museum will be located on Main Street in Delta, sixteen miles from the Topaz site. It will be 8,254 sq. ft. with an art gallery, exhibit space, curatorial facilities, office, and library.

The design of the building was completed by Alan Kawasaki, principle of Shah Kawasaki Architects located in Oakland. Alan’s family, the Hayashidas, lived on Block 7 at Topaz.

Rick Okabe, from the Topaz Museum Board, expressed the feelings of the entire Board when he said, “We are very pleased with this grant.  Having the NPS endorsement will help us with our long-range funding.”

With the addition of the NPS grant, the Board has now raised $1.2 million of the $2.3 million needed for the Museum and is continuing to work with Utah foundations and other interested individuals.  Naming opportunities for various Topaz Museum exhibits will be available for donors who would like to honor friends or relatives who were incarcerated there.

The Topaz Museum and Education Center is part of a comprehensive preservation program begun in 1993 when the Board started buying the Topaz site to protect it from development.  The TMB now owns 626 acres of the 640 acres where over 11,000 Japanese Americans were confined during World War II.

“Without financial help from former internees and their families, we would never have been able to save the Topaz site,” said Jane Beckwith, president of the Topaz Museum Board.  “While there are no original buildings left at Topaz, the walkways still reveal the exact place of most of the doorways of the barracks. The gardens scattered throughout the camp and foundations for the latrines and mess halls give haunting evidence of the remaining artifacts at Topaz.”

In 2007 the NPS named the Topaz site a National Historic Landmark. A large crowd celebrated the ceremony, and Utah’s Governor Jon Huntsman gave the keynote speech.

The Topaz Museum will house an extensive art collection of paintings done at Topaz. Artists represented in the collection include Miné Okubo, Chiura Obata, Charles Erabu Suiko Mikami, Thomas Ryosaku Matsuoka, Yajiro Okamoto, Kinji Utsumi, and others. 

Part of the art collection will be displayed at the San Francisco Public Library from April 28 to June 24 on the library’s fourth floor. 

The capital campaign will continue in order to provide a suitable facility for the art and artifacts owned by the Topaz Museum.  If you are interested in making a donation, please send a check to the Topaz Museum, P.O. Box 241, Delta, Utah 84624, visit the website at or call 435-864-2098.  Your gift may be an opportunity to recognize a family member who lived at Topaz and will help ensure that the injustices of internment are remembered.  All gifts are tax deductible.