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The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946

March 5, 2010 – January 30, 2011

Museum: Renwick Gallery

Location: South & West Special Exhibition Galleries, 1st Floor

The exhibit features more than 120 arts-and-crafts objects made by Japanese Americans in U.S. internment camps during World War II, along with photographs illustrating life in the camps. Housed in tar-paper covered barracks furnished with nothing more than metal cots, the internees used scraps and found materials to create furniture, toys and games, musical instruments, pendants and pins, purses, and ornamental displays. These objects became essential for both simple creature comforts and emotional survival and represent the physical manifestations of the art of gaman, a Japanese word that means to bear the seemingly unbearable with dignity and patience. Many are on loan from former internees or their families. 

Two 20-minute documentaries: Voices Long Silent (2010) and Art of Gaman: The Story Behind the Objects (2010) run continuously in sequence

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