Exhibit of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
“People are always looking for their beginnings.” – Miyo Ike
Above, the Nobuyama family of South Park. A farming family. Photo courtesy of the Wing Luke Museum.
Vintage Japantown is a labor of love by the community and staff of the Wing Luke Museum, capturing a time when the Japanese Americans were a tight-knit community, socially and geographically. As part of the exhibit’s development, more than 100 community members were involved in the identification process, reviewing 400 photos in our Takano Studio collection.
The identification process began in fall 2010 with a group of six to eight Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans) invited to view the images at The Wing over two days. Following the suggestion of Miyo Ike, one of the Nisei participants, we then brought the images to Nikkei Manor (a senior assisted living facility) in January 2011, where 27 residents, family members, and other Nisei attended to help identify individuals.
From there, the identification process took a life of its own, becoming viral and organic. Volunteers passed the photos to friends and family around the country for help. It was apparent that there is a strong community desire to preserve this part of history now as the Nisei are getting older and their children are moving away.
Looking at these photos also triggered and revealed vivid memories and personal stories. Michelle Kumata, Exhibits Manager, shared that when she met with individuals to gather stories and identify individuals and locations, it was very moving to see the joy on their faces as they recognized family, friends, and even themselves in the photos. The opportunity that these photos provided for telling stories between generations was as valuable as the identification itself.
Thank you to all the volunteers who have helped with identification and to all the attendees who came to the exhibit opening. If you would like to help identify photos, visit the photo identification binder in the exhibit or contact email@example.com.
Photos displayed here are courtesy of the Takano Studio Collection at the Wing Luke Museum.
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