Manzanar Opens Long-Awaited Barracks Exhibits

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This display shows living quarters as they appeared shortly after the incarcerees' arrival.

This display shows living quarters as they appeared shortly after the incarcerees’ arrival.

During World War II, more than 10,000 Japanese Americans coped with spartan living conditions at Manzanar. They were from cities and farms, young and old, rich and poor, extended families and single people. All were forced from their pre-war homes to live in crowded apartments in identical barracks in Manzanar.

Beginning this week, visitors have the opportunity to learn more about the personal experiences of individuals, families, and communities incarcerated at Manzanar through new permanent exhibits installed in two reconstructed barracks. The exhibits feature extensive photos, documents, and quotes illustrating the challenges and changes people faced at Manzanar. Six audio stations and one video station feature a total of 42 oral history clips.

Exhibits in Barracks 1 focus on the early days of Manzanar, when thousands of people arrived to an unfinished camp. Barracks 1 also includes a block manager’s office, featuring the papers of Block Manager Chokichi Nakano.

Barracks 8 features an “improved” apartment with linoleum and wall board. A second room explores the loyalty questionnaire and its profound long-lasting impacts.

A display about the controversial loyalty questionnaire.

A display about the controversial loyalty questionnaire.

“We’re happy to have the new exhibits installed in time for next weekend’s annual pilgrimage,” said Superintendent Bernadette Johnson. “The pilgrimage is a time when people come together to share stories. The new exhibits make it possible to experience the living conditions and create personal connections for our visitors as they tour the barracks and hear stories told by incarcerees.”

Manzanar National Historic Site is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence. Admission is free. For further information, call (760) 878-2194, ext. 3310, or go online to www.nps.gov/manz, or www.facebook.com/ManzanarNationalHistoricSite.

This display shows barracks interior after some improvements were made.

This display shows barracks interior after some improvements were made.

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