Skip to main content

JANM Acquires Eaton Collection After Social Media Storm

By May 5, 2015No Comments

By P.C. Staff

The Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles announced May 4 that it has acquired the Eaton collection of Japanese American concentration camp art, crafts and photography from the Ryan family.

The announcement came during JANM’s annual gala, where museum President/CEO Greg Kimura broke the news to guests.

The planned auction of more than 400 pieces last month was canceled after social media protests from community members at the Rago Arts and Auction Center in Lambertville, N.J.

According to a statement released by the auction center, “JANM offered compensation acceptable to the Ryans. JANM satisfies every dimension specified in the draft of the RFP” and that “it’s truly fitting that this material will reside in perpetuity at an institution dedicated to sharing the Japanese American experience.”

In Kimura’s announcement at the gala, he told the audience, “We honor the sacrifice of our forebears who suffered to prove their loyalty to the U.S. by ensuring that such Constitutional violations never happen again. I’m very pleased that our museum, Rago Arts and Auction Center and the John Ryan family of Connecticut, which possessed the artifacts, were able to reach an agreement that reflects our mutual interests. We all want to see these items appropriately preserved.”

Special recognition was given to actor-activist George Takei for his help in acquiring the Eaton collection. Takei, who was honored at the gala with the museum’s Distinguished Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement and Public Service, reportedly was in communication with the auction house hours before the collection was set to go on sale. His efforts, along with others, aided in stopping the sale.

“We have great respect for the Japanese American community who engaged with civility and intelligence with the owners and our auction house,” wrote Miriam Tucker, managing partner at Rago Arts and Auction Center, in a statement. “A lot of energy was generated by the storm surrounding the sale of this collection. We want it to fuel a larger conversation about the marketplace for historical property associated with man’s inhumanity.”