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Visitors in the Topaz Museum

About the Museum

The idea for a Topaz Museum actually began in journalism classes at Delta High in 1982, led by teacher Jane Beckwith. She assigned her students to interview Delta residents who had worked at Topaz during World War II. The assignment began a community dialogue in Delta for the first time since the war. People then brought artifacts to Jane that they had been keeping, resulting in a trunk of artifacts that were shown during presentations about Topaz. A conference at the University of Utah in 1983 sparked a connection and conversation between the Delta High School students and Japanese Americans attending the conference.

Restored Topaz Barrack
The Topaz Museum shares the stories of the 11,000 people of Japanese descent who were unjustly accused of threatening the nation’s security, and then confined at Topaz during World War II through a collection of hundreds of artifacts, photographs, and oral histories, including 150 pieces of original artwork.

The core exhibit explores the complex story of the World War II Japanese American incarceration experience. The exhibit begins with the racist laws that marginalized early Japanese immigrants leading to the mass incarceration of the Japanese American community during World War II, extends into the traumatic impact of their exile, and concludes with an examination of the Constitutional violations that the incarcerees were forced to endure.

Through powerful artifacts, photographs, and first-person accounts, visitors engage with the personal stories of Japanese Americans who lived through the experience of mass incarceration by the U.S. government. The Topaz Museum emphasizes that the World War II American confinement sites and the protection of our civil liberties is a shared history and that the objects and photographs from Topaz can encourage Americans to connect to our shared past and to better understand how to create a more just future.

Delta Driving or Biking Tour of Former Topaz Buildings

After Topaz closed in 1945, the government sold the land, water rights, utility poles, water pipes, and the buildings that were on the site. Half of a barrack sold for $250. Half of a hospital wing sold for $500. The buildings were purchased and moved to locations all over the state of Utah. This tour includes some of the barracks and hospital wings that were moved from Topaz to Delta and then remodeled, as well as other points of interest that tell the history of Topaz.

18 stops and photos with captions

Topaz Museum exterior

Photo: Brian Buroker

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