As of Oct. 1, Manzanar Visitor Center’s bookstore is being operated by the nonprofit Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association (ESIA), replacing the nonprofit Friends of Eastern California Museum (FECM).
MHA provided for a wide selection of items in the bookstore, and developed two Manzanar-related publications, the award-winning “Children of Manzanar” (Heyday, 2012) and “Life After Manzanar” (Heyday, 2018). The books focused on individual experiences of people who had been incarcerated in Manzanar during World War II.
Manzanar Superintendent Bernadette Johnson said, “MHA’s efforts over the past 14 years are greatly appreciated and helped the National Park Service share the important history of Manzanar, an International Site of Conscience.”
In August, FECM and NPS agreed to terminate their cooperating agreement, resulting in MHA’s dissolution. ESIA was selected as the successor.
“Manzanar is a unique, iconic site with a story that needs to continue to be told. We are honored to be able to help share its lessons of history with visitors,” ESIA Executive Director Jeff Gabriel said. ESIA has worked with the U.S. Forest Service under a participating agreement for educational purposes since 1971. It currently has similar agreements with the Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office and is the cooperating association for NPS’s Devils Postpile National Monument.
“I appreciate efforts by both FECM/MHA and ESIA to transition smoothly and ensure that visitor experiences were not affected by the change,” Johnson said. “The NPS is looking forward to working with ESIA.”
Visitation at Manzanar continues to move in a year-round trend, she noted. From 2014 to 2017, the site’s yearly visitation increased by 47 percent.
The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.
“The resources that ESIA brings as a regional interpretive and educational nonprofit are an excellent fit as we continue to look for creative ways to preserve all of Manzanar’s layers of history,” Johnson said.
Manzanar Visitor Center is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. It features extensive exhibits and a 22-minute introductory film, “Remembering Manzanar.” Admission is free. Nearby, a World War II-era mess hall, two reconstructed barracks, and a latrine interpret the challenges of daily life. Visitors who choose to explore Manzanar on foot should wear sturdy shoes, hats and sunscreen, and carry water.
Manzanar is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence. For more information, call (760) 878-2194, ext. 3310 or visit www.nps.gov/manz. Manzanar is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ManzanarNationalHistoricSite.