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Smithsonian Receives Collection from Japanese American Painter Roger Shimomura

National Museum of American History Commemorates Day of Remembrance
February 17, 2016

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will host “Day of Remembrance: Japanese American Incarceration and the Art of Identity with Roger Shimomura,” a one-day program marking the 74th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 that established Japanese internment camps during World War II on its anniversary, Feb. 19 between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.

Roger Shimomura is a painter, printmaker, performance artist, professor and collector who combines Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, comic book characters and pop culture symbols to address the issue of American identity, including ethnicity and the views of the Japanese American experience. He spent several childhood years (1942–1944) in the Minidoka Camp in Idaho with his grandmother Toku Machida Shimomura, and the experiences recorded in her diaries strongly influence his work.

Along with accepting Shimomura’s grandmother’s diaries, the museum recently collected the artist’s “Memories of Childhood,” a series of small acrylic paintings illustrating Toku Machida Shimomura’s journal entries, which she began when she left her Tokyo home in 1912 to live in the United States. During the event, Shimomura will donate the rest of his extensive collection of camp materials: scrapbooks, identification cards and objects made in camp. The diaries, which span 56 years of his grandmother’s life, include her account of the World War II incarceration experience.

The museum will also screen a film clip of Shimomura from an upcoming documentary by filmmaker David Ono, and visitors will be able to view artifacts highlighting a future exhibit about Executive Order 9066. A panel discussion with Shimomura and Ono and a spoken-word performance by Regie Cabico, poet and spoken-word artist, will conclude the evening.

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. The museum helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. It is currently renovating its west exhibition wing, developing galleries on business, democracy and culture. For more information, visit https://americanhistory.si.edu. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free.

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