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Feb. 1, 2017
Un-American: Japanese Internment in Our Backyard
New exhibit at Chandler Museum gives unique glimpse of WWII Relocation Center that was only a few miles south of Chandler
A new exhibit at the Chandler Museum shares the history of the Gila River War Relocation Center, and internment camp for Japanese Americans during the Second World War that was located only a few miles south of Chandler. Un-American: Japanese Internment in Our Backyard opens on Feb. 7, 2017, and will be on display through the summer.
Admission is free to the Museum, located in the historic McCullough-Price House, 300 S. Chandler Village Drive, and the hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A public reception for the exhibit will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23, featuring tours of the exhibit from staff and a short talk on the history of the camp.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were confined to internment camps. More than 16,000 women, men and children were relocated to the Gila River Internment Camp simply because they looked like the enemy. Visitors to the exhibit will experience the photos and stories of the people who were forced to leave behind almost everything they owned to live in stark conditions in the middle of the desert. At the time, Chandler’s population of 3,000 was dwarfed by the camp’s peak population of more than 13,000, which would have made the camp the fourth largest city in Arizona. Individuals from the camp picked crops in Chandler fields and played baseball against local teams.
“The Gila River Internment Camp, like all of the 10 incarceration camps of World War II, has a very unique story to tell,” says Chandler Museum Administrator Jody Crago. “The Japanese Americans who were incarcerated at this camp embraced Gaman, a term that means ‘enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience, perseverance and dignity.”
Crago continued, “They worked at jobs, organized schools and community events, created art, personalized their living quarters, made furniture, created baseball leagues and did what they could to make some semblance of normalcy amidst the very real uncertainty of being incarcerated by their own country, during a time of war.”
Members of the community can contribute to the Un-American exhibit. Museum staff is engaging individuals and organizations throughout Chandler to help fold 16,655 origami cranes to be used in an installation piece as part of the exhibit. Each crane represents a person who was incarcerated at the Gila River Internment Camp.
About America in Times of Conflict
America in Times of Conflict is a collaborative series of panel discussions, exhibits, movies, lectures and performances made possible through a partnership between Chandler Public Library, Chandler Museum, Chandler Senior Center and Chandler Center for the Arts. Running November 2016 through April 2017, its programs explore the stories and perspectives that emerged in our community during conflicts in American history, including World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Many of the programs in this project are supported by the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records, a division of the Secretary of State, with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
About Chandler Museum
The Chandler Museum is an interdisciplinary learning environment where the community comes together to share its stories, preserve its cultural heritage and experience Chandler as a people and place. The vision of the Museum is to be the community’s principal resource to explore its people’s history, culture and their place in a rapidly changing world of today – within and without the walls of a building.