Once the subject of a controversial auction, the Allen Hendershott Eaton Collection is now on view in Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES — The Allen Hendershott Eaton Collection, which was saved from the auction block in 2015 through the efforts of various community groups that felt Japanese American history from World War II should not be for sale, is now on display at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo.
Titled “Contested Histories: Art and Artifacts From the Allen Hendershott Eaton Collection,” the display includes physical or digital representation of every item in the collection — more than 450 individual photographs, sculptures, paintings and watercolors, jewelry items, vases, beads, nameplates and other handmade items from the WWII incarceration camps that Japanese Americans were forced to endure. The exhibit will remain on view until April 8.
While conducting research for a book about art and craft objects created by Japanese Americans during WWII, Eaton amassed a significant collection of such camp artifacts. After many years of being in storage and forgotten, the collection was inherited by a family friend of Eaton’s, who in April 2015 decided to put the artifacts up for auction. Japanese American activists and community leaders rallied successfully to stop the sale, and ultimately, the collection was transferred to JANM.
In addition to providing the opportunity to see the collection that inspired strong emotions and decisive actions within the Japanese American community, “Contested Histories” is intended to help gather information about each individual object so that the museum’s efforts to preserve and catalog the collection can be as complete as possible.
Camp survivors and their family members and friends will be encouraged to share with JANM information they know or remember about the objects, including who is depicted in the many photographs, most of which were shot by photographers working for the War Relocation Authority.
After the display at JANM concludes in April, the artifacts and/or facsimiles will travel to a number of other locations in the United States for additional viewing and information gathering. Venues and dates for the traveling display are still being determined.
Support for the conservation and display of the Eaton Collection was provided by the National Park Service’s Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program.
The exhibit is included with regular museum admission and is accessible during the museum’s Hirasaki National Resource Center hours on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Thursday from 2:30-5 p.m.
Additional information about “Contested Histories” is available at janm.org/contested-histories.