More than 20 years in the making, the Topaz Museum is set to open officially on July 7-8, with a grand opening celebration that is expected to draw hundreds to the community of Delta, Utah.
The museum tells the story of the 11,000 people of Japanese descent who were sent to the Topaz internment camp near Delta during World War II, unjustly accused of threatening the nation’s security.
Grand opening events begin July 7, featuring an evening reception, dinner and program at the Sheraton Hotel in Salt Lake City. Reservations are required by June 26 for the events in Salt Lake City and Delta.
The featured speaker for the July 8 program will be Don Tamaki, an attorney who was on the appeal team for Fred Korematsu, whose case went to the U.S. Supreme Court during the war.
Franklin Odo, former director of the Asian Pacific American Program at the Smithsonian Institution and visiting professor at Amherst College, is also scheduled to speak.
The grand opening registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. on July 8 at Delta High School, with the program beginning at 10:30 a.m. Charter buses from Salt Lake City will carry those who order tickets to the Topaz museum.
Visitors to Delta will also be able to watch the play “E.O. 9066” by the San Francisco troupe Lunatique Fantastique, as well as tour the museum. Bus tours of the square-mile site of the camp, owned by the museum, will be available. No buildings remain on the site.
The museum is now open to visitors and is operating on summer hours, which are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday. The museum’s 4,000-square-foot gallery chronicles the immigration of Japanese people into the U.S. and their settlement in Utah.
The new museum building was completed in 2014, and it hosted an inaugural art exhibit in 2015. The permanent exhibits were completed earlier this year.
The daily life of internees is shown in re-created barracks inside the gallery, and one-half of a recreational hall from Topaz is also on display. In addition, the museum has 120 pieces of art, most of it created in Topaz, in its collection, and 25 of them — oils, charcoals, watercolors and block prints — are on display at present.
More than 110,000 Japanese people living along the West Coast were forced to move to inland camps after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942.
Topaz, located 16 miles northwest of Delta, was one of 10 such camps. It opened on Sept. 11, 1942, and by the time it closed on Oct. 31, 1945, more than 11,000 people had lived in its tarpaper barracks.
The Topaz museum is located at 55 W. Main St. in Delta, Utah. For more information about the grand opening, visit http://www.topazmuseum.org. To buy tickets, visit Eventbrite or call Austin Ashcraft at (801) 842-9691.