Members Exhibition Opening “Japanese American Incarceration in Grand County”
On Thursday, February 15, 2024, all Museum members are invited to a members-only Exhibit Preview, featuring remarks by former Utah State Senator Jani Iwamoto, the first Japanese American woman to serve in the Utah State Senate. Ms. Iwamoto will discuss her work advocating for the preservation of Japanese American history and culture in Utah; she will be introduced by Museum Board Vice President Megan Blackwelder and Southeast Utah Regional Manager for the Utah Division of State Parks. Museum members are encouraged to attend this preview to learn more about the partnership between the Museum and Utah State Parks’ interpretive plans for the new Utahraptor State Park at Dalton Wells.
A Moab Prison Camp: Japanese American Incarceration in Grand County introduces the local and national story of Japanese American incarceration during WWII. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the wartime incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans, a majority of whom were US Citizens, in detention facilities across the country. The Moab Isolation Center, located north of Moab at Dalton Wells, played a brief but significant role in the web of Japanese-American incarceration facilities: a former Civilian Conservation Corps camp was transformed into a temporary prison camp for so-called “troublemakers” from other camps. In this exhibit, a tale of injustice and resilience unfolds via stories and objects, introducing the national context with the Smithsonian’s Righting a Wrong poster exhibition and research conducted by Utah State Parks.
This exhibit unpacks the nuanced terminology used during that era and following, inviting visitors to confront the usage of words like “relocation” versus “incarceration” and wrestle with the gravity of terms such as “concentration camp.” Through compelling narratives curated collaboratively with descendants and partners, A Moab Prison Camp illuminates the resilience and resistance exhibited by those imprisoned in Moab. It offers a broader exploration of the Japanese-American experience during this tumultuous period in US history.