The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center on the site of a World War II Japanese American internment camp, received a “Special Distinction” award from the American Association of Museums (AAM) for “Eloquent Presentation of Topic.”
The award was presented to Eric L. Muller, Dan K. Moore Distinguished Professor in Jurisprudence and Ethics at UNC School of Law, on May 1 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Museums in Minneapolis, Minn. Muller is a Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation board member and co-chair of the 15-person program committee which oversaw the development and installation of the exhibits.
“The many dedicated individuals who devoted their talents and energy to the creation of the exhibits faced the extraordinary challenge of developing displays that would present a shameful period in American history in a way that would be memorable and thought-provoking without being preachy,” said Muller. “This award is especially gratifying, because it indicates that we were successful in accomplishing our mission.”
Opened in August 2011, the 11,000-square-foot interpretive center includes permanent displays and exhibits developed to showcase how the U.S. government denied basic rights to people of Japanese ancestry following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. The exhibits are told from the perspective of the internees and highlight their pre-war lives on the West Coast, forced evacuation and travel to Heart Mountain, where they settled into their barracks and lives as prisoners.
In presenting the award, AAM noted that, “Visitors are prompted to think about the relevance of the Heart Mountain experience to current events and the debate about the balance between freedom and national security. The Excellence in Exhibitions Competition chose this exhibition for an award of special distinction because of its sensitive and eloquent presentation of a difficult topic.”
Now in its 24th year, the AAM’s ‘Excellence in Exhibitions Competition recognizes exhibitions for overall excellence or for stretching the limits of exhibition content and design through innovation.
About the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation
The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation (HMWF) was formed in 1996 and is dedicated to preserving the site of the Heart Mountain “Relocation Center” in Park County, Wyo., where nearly 14,000 people of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated from 1942 to 1945, surrounded by guard towers and barbed wire fences. In total, some 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of them American-born citizens, were deprived of due process and forced to leave their homes and livelihoods during WWII. The HMWF acquired 50 acres of land to preserve the site and interpret what occurred there – for the current and future generations of Americans. The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation Interpretive Center houses an extensive collection of artifacts and educational exhibits that serve to honor Heart Mountain survivors and stand as a lasting tribute to their experiences. For more information about the grand opening, or to make a donation, visit www.heartmountain.org.
-May 2, 2012