January - February 26, 2016
The Congressional Gold Medal and uniform from a Japanese American soldier who served with the heralded 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II are part of a new exhibit at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center. They are just a few of the unique items on display for the first time in an exhibit titled Dusted Off, featuring new acquisitions to the Heart Mountain collection.
In addition to the medal and uniform, there are other objects from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated all-Japanese American unit that fought in Europe. The 442nd went on to become the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of the U.S. Army. Also on display are items that illustrate everyday life at Heart Mountain, including ice skates, mess hall dishes, and a handmade curtain. Artwork made in camp is featured as well, including an intricately hand-carved wooden mirror.
The exhibit represents not only a significant chapter of American history, but also the commitment by generous donors who saved the items for many years before dusting them off and turning them over to the care of the Interpretive Center. The exhibit comprises a mix of items from Wyoming donors, former incarcerees and descendants of incarcerees.
“These objects have been cared for over time and entrusted to us for preservation and display. They represent a reverence for history we as a community share,” said Brian Liesinger, Executive Director of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation. “So in honor of the history these artifacts represent, and in honor of the generous donors who have returned them to Heart Mountain, we are bringing these treasured pieces into our exhibit gallery for public viewing.”
Dusted Off is open now and will run through February 26. The special exhibit allows visitors to view artifacts, lovingly saved through time, that reflect life in the “Heart Mountain Relocation Center,” as well as items that highlight the service of Japanese Americans who went overseas to fight while their families remained unjustly confined in camps.
“Not only do we hope this exhibit impresses visitors with never-seen-before items, we also hope it inspires those holding Heart Mountain artifacts to consider entrusting these precious items to us for future preservation, display and care,” said Liesinger.
I WANT THE WIDE AMERICAN EARTH:
An Asian Pacific American Story
September 19 - November 15, 2015
Asian and Pacific Americans make up more than 5% of the U.S. population, over 17 million people—and those numbers are growing. Their ancestral roots represent over 50% of the world, extending from East Asia to Southeast Asia, and from South Asia to the Pacific Islands and Polynesia.
In the first exhibition of its kind, the Smithsonian celebrates Asian Pacific American history across this multitude of incredibly diverse cultures, and explores how Asian Pacific Americans have shaped and been shaped by the course of our nation’s history. Rich with compelling, often surprising stories, the exhibition takes a sweeping look at this history, from the very first Asian immigrants to the influx of highly skilled workers many decades later.
The exhibition charts the beginnings of Asians in America, from the idea of Asia first motivating Christopher Columbus’ trans-Atlantic voyage of discovery in 1492 to the arrival of Asian laborers all along the Gulf Coast and Eastern American seaboard throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. From there, the exhibition tells the rich and complex stories of early Asian immigrants finding homes and participating in key moments in American history. Asian immigrants panned in the Gold Rush, hammered ties in the Transcontinental Railroad, and fought on both sides in the Civil War. And, on plantations in Hawai`i and farms in California, they helped build the nation’s agricultural system.
Through the decades, Asian immigrants struggled against legal exclusion, civil rights violations, and unlawful detention, such as the 120,000 Japanese who were interned during WWII. Since the 1960s, vibrant new communities, pan-Asian, Pacific Islander, and cross-cultural in make-up, have blossomed. Asian Americans enrich the cultural life of the nation, and continue to help write the remarkable story of America.
I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story was created by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The exhibition is supported by a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.