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The Topaz Museum is currently installing its permanent exhibits. Call to see when the Museum is open 435-864-2514.

"When Words Weren’t Enough: Works on Paper from Topaz, 1942-1945"

 January 29, 2015

 The Topaz Museum in Delta, Utah has opened with an inaugural art exhibition, When Words Weren’t Enough: Works on Paper from Topaz, 1942-1945. Drawing from the museum’s permanent collection, the exhibition features artists who contributed greatly to the art and culture of the Topaz War Relocation Authority Camp that confined people of Japanese descent from 1942-1945. Through a remarkably varied selection of works on paper, this exhibition showcases the talent of Japanese American artists such as Miné Okubo, Chiura Obata, Charles Erabu Suiko Mikami, and Setsu Nagata Kanehara.  

 Ranging in style, subject and form, the works provide fascinating insight into the diverse voices and talents of the people at Topaz. In spite of unimaginable circumstances, an art school with nearly 600 students was started by Chiura Obata, who, prior to the war, had been an instructor at UC Berkeley. Under his leadership, students painted with strength and distinction, guided by 16 instructors teaching 23 different classes.

 After decades of racial prejudice, followed by the bombing of Pearl Harbor that initiated America into the Second World War, the United States government ordered all persons of Japanese ancestry living along the West Coast to leave their homes and were sent to ten confinement centers scattered throughout the country, often located in sparse and desolate regions. Topaz had a peak population of 8,300, making it Utah’s fifth largest city.  In 1984, a federal commission ruled that the camps were a product of “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” Now, 72 years later, Japanese American artists are being recognized for their contribution and skill, in a museum located near the site where their art was created.

 Curated by Scotti Hill, the exhibition looks forward to sharing its powerful and imperative message with the public.

 About the Topaz Museum

The permanent exhibit will be open in March. Watch this website for the specific date. The new museum was designed by Sparano and Mooney Architects of Salt Lake City and constructed by Westland Construction of Orem, Utah.

 Location, Hours and Contact:

The Topaz Museum is located on 55 West Main, Delta Utah. Call to confirm we are open 435-864-2514.  Hours of Operation: 11:00 to 5:00 Monday through Saturday. 

The exhibition  is now open with the art show. Watch for the announcement when the museum will close to install the permanent exhibit. Come and see the art show before it closes later this year.

The Topaz site is open daily; please do not remove any artifacts. 10000 West 4500 North, Delta, Utah.

For more information see the Facebook page Japanese American Internment Camp Museum.

This is the top portion of the news & events page, all news and events are displayed below automatically.

Museum opening delayed until 2017

August 28, 2014

The Topaz Museum Board has moved the opening of the museum to 2017. 

An Exhibit Advisory Committee has been formed to review revisions to the text.  The members of the committee are Dr. Franklin Odo, Nancy Araki, Dr. Cherstin Lyon, and Dr. Greg Robinson.

In June the National Park Service awarded the Topaz Museum Board a $497,000 matching grant from the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program which will be used to manufacture and install the Topaz exhibits.

The Board hired Sarah Bartlett to revise the exhibit text. Sarah has an MA in Museum Studies from University College in London and was the text writer for the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center in Powell, WY.

With the completion of the construction of the museum building in Delta, the Board is glad to now be working toward the completion of the exhibits in 2017.

Topaz Museum opened with an art show

2015-01-13 22:48

The Topaz Museum in Delta, Utah is pleased to announce it has opened with an inaugural art exhibition, When Words Weren't Enough: Works on paper from Topaz, 1942.  Drawing from the museum's permanent collection, the exhibition focuses on artists who contributed to the art and culture of the Topaz Internment Camp that confined people of Japanese descent during World War II. Through a remarkably varied selection of works, this exhibition showcases the talent of Japanese American artist such as Mine Okubo, Chiura Obata, Charles Erabu Suiko Mikami, and Setsu Nagata Kanehara.

The Topaz Museum is located on 55 West Main, Delta, Utah.  The exhibit opened on Jan. 13, 2015 and will remain until late fall 2016, Monday through Saturday from 11:00 to 5:00, except for major holidays.

In spite of unimaginable circumstances, an art school with nearly 600 students was organized by Chiura Obata, who, prior to the war, had been an instructor at UC Berkeley. Under his leadership, students painted with strength and distinction, guided by 16 instructors, teaching 23 different classes.

Construction on the Topaz Museum is complete

2013-09-09 13:28

Cement pump second day of cement pour

The construction on the Topaz Museum building was finished in May 2014, and the museum opened in January 2015.  Watch this website for more information on the permanent exhibit which have been designed by West Office Design Exhibition from Oakland.  Help us finish the museum by donating today.

Construction of the Topaz Museum building has ended; the museum will open soon

2013-05-25 17:13

Topaz Museum May 2014

The Topaz Museum board received a $714k grant from the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant program to build the Topaz Museum. That money added to donations and gifts from foundations and individuals has made it possible to finish building the Museum on Main Street in Delta, Utah.

Sparano and Mooney Architects and Darin Mano of RAW Design completed drawings for the 8,000 sq. ft. building that is situated at 55 West Main Street in Delta, Utah, next to the new Community Center. Westland Construction from Orem, Utah constructed the building.

West Office Exhibition Design from Oakland, CA is refining the exhibits which will be the heart of the Museum, including a barrack apartment, art gallery, camp model, and other features that will tell the history of Topaz. Fund raising for the exhibits will continue during the summer. Your contribution will ensure that the Museum will open as soon as possible.

Ground breaking ceremony will include tours of Topaz and other programs

2012-07-30 17:42

The Ground Breaking Ceremony took place on Aug. 4, 2012 in the Delta City Park, 100 West Main Street, Delta, Utah. We have now begun construction as of June 2013.

 9:00 a.m.          Registration and lunch reservations

  Art show in the Delta City Library

  Willie Ito book signing

 10:00 a.m.         Ground breaking ceremony

 12:00                  Lunch

 These events will be repeated throughout the day

  Taiko drummers

  Willie Ito presentation

  Toru Saito singing

  Topaz/CyArk website preview

   Bus tours of Topaz

   Recreation hall tours

   Art show in the Delta City Library

Ground breaking for the Topaz Museum set for Aug. 4, 2012

2012-07-30 17:38

 A ground breaking ceremony will kick-off the construction of the Topaz Museum on Aug. 4, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. on Main Street in Delta, Utah where the new museum will be built. Besides the ceremony, there will be tours of the Topaz site and a preview of an interactive website created by CyArk. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. in the Delta City Park.

 Honored guests will be Mayor Gayle Bunker and Willie Ito, who taught himself how to draw cartoons while he was in Topaz. He later worked for Disney, Warner Brothers, and Hanna Barbera Studios.

 Mayor Gayle Bunker became a champion for building the Topaz Museum years ago when he was on the city council and Assistant US Attorney General Bill Lann Lee visited the Topaz site. Since then the mayor has been a tireless supporter of the Topaz Museum Board’s plans to build a Museum.

 Willie Ito worked in the cartoon industry beginning in 1954 when he was 19 years old and was hired by Disney Studio for the famous spaghetti kiss scene of “Lady and the Tramp.”  He has also worked for other studios, and then went back to Disney until he retired.

 When Ito was five-years old he saw “Snow White” and knew from the moment the seven dwarfs started singing “Hi ho, Hi ho” that he wanted to do animation.

 Part of the day’s activities will be a presentation by CyArk, a non profit organization that digitally preserves cultural heritage sites by laser scanning and 3-D models on line...

Topaz Museum receives NPS grant

2012-04-26 14:56

 Delta, UT --- The Topaz Museum Board (TMB) has received a $714,314 grant from the National Park Service (NPS) for a capital outlay project to build the Topaz Museum and Education Center.  The ground breaking ceremony will be Aug. 4, 2012 in Delta, Utah.  The Board has been conducting a capital campaign in order to complete the $2.3 million project.

The Museum will be located on Main Street in Delta, sixteen miles from the Topaz site. It will be 8,254 sq. ft. with an art gallery, exhibit space, curatorial facilities, office, and library.

The design of the building was completed by Alan Kawasaki, principle of Shah Kawasaki Architects located in Oakland. Alan’s family, the Hayashidas, lived on Block 7 at Topaz.

Rick Okabe, from the Topaz Museum Board, expressed the feelings of the entire Board when he said, “We are very pleased with this grant.  Having the NPS endorsement will help us with our long-range funding.”

With the addition of the NPS grant, the Board has now raised $1.2 million of the $2.3 million needed for the Museum and is continuing to work with Utah foundations and other interested individuals.  Naming opportunities for various Topaz Museum exhibits will be available for donors who would like to honor friends or relatives who were incarcerated there.

The Topaz Museum and Education Center is part of a comprehensive preservation program begun in 1993 when the Board started buying the Topaz site to...

Topaz: Artists in Internment their visual work and words in the Rio Grande Gallery in Salt Lake (2012)

2012-01-22 14:14

The Topaz Art show grand opening on Jan. 20, 2012 featured 32 pieces of art painted at Topaz with a poetry reading by Lawson Inada.

The show will remain at the Rio Gallery in Salt Lake City until Feb. 13 when it will travel to San Leandro and later to the San Francisco Public Library.

App for Topaz site tour

2012-01-03 16:15

 iPhone App Recreates WWII-Era Japanese American Internment Camp

 New RAMA walking tour, “Topaz Relocation Camp,” uses geo-located historical photographs and narrative to reconstruct infamous concentration camp in Utah desert

 DELTA, Utah—Dec 16, 2011—Today, the 19,800 acres where 11,000  Japanese American internees farmed and lived in isolation from the rest of the country is easy to miss on the drive west from Delta, Utah. A new iPhone walking tour, however, aims to virtually reconstruct the historical Topaz War Relocation Center, so that this flat stretch of desert—and the dark time in American civil rights history it represents—won’t be so easily overlooked.

 Available on Rama, the BBC-recommended iPhone app that serves as a portal for authors offering photographic walking tours, “Topaz Relocation Camp” uses the iPhone’s mapping and GPS functions to guide visitors through the former site of the camp and offer glimpses of its former structures and residents. Using archival and personal photographs taken at the camp in the 1940s, the tour’s journey-through-time  shows and tells the story  of the internees at Topaz, including  daily life in the camp’s 36 residential blocks,  toiling on the farms in the desert, the activities of the local Boy Scouts troop, and the Topaz High School’s dances.

 “I wanted to tell a story of triumph over...

Topaz: Artists in Internment their visual work and words

2012-01-03 15:32

 Topaz: Artists in Internment exhibit at the Rio Gallery

Friday, Jan. 13 – Feb. 10, 2012

 SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Arts & Museums will open the traveling exhibit Topaz: Artists in Internment Their Visual Work and Words Jan. 13 at the Rio Gallery. A public reception will be held Friday, Jan. 20, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. during the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll. There will be a screening of the short documentary Days of Waiting, poetry reading by former Oregon poet laureate Lawson Inada, and an opportunity to honor descendants and survivors of the internment experience. The exhibit will continue until Feb. 10 during state office hours, which are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The Rio Gallery is located at 300 S. Rio Grande Street (455 West) in Salt Lake City.

 Topaz: Artists in Internment will feature artworks created during internment at the Topaz War Relocation Center near Delta, Utah, on loan from the Topaz Museum. Artwork by Chiura Obata, Setsu Nagata Kanehara, Charles Erabu Mikami, Miné Okubo, Thomas Ryosaku Matsuoka, Yajiro Okamoto, Kenji Utsumi and Kaneo Kido will be shown alongside the poetry of Lawson Inada. Inada was interned with his parents in camps in Fresno, Arkansas and Colorado, and was Oregon’s poet laureate from 2006 to 2010.

 “We are pleased to launch the traveling exhibit Topaz: Artists in Internment...


2011-10-24 11:07

CyArk News Release

For Immediate Release - September 12, 2011

The National Park Service (NPS) has partnered with CyArk through the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program to digitally preserve the Topaz Relocation Center. CyArk, is a California based non-profit dedicated to creating a digital archive of the world’s heritage sites for preservation and education. The Topaz Relocation Center is one of three camps to be documented under this grant program through critical partnerships with the University of Colorado Denver’s Center of Preservation Research and Denshō. Future documentation work is set for the Manzanar and Tule Lake sites in California.

Through close collaboration with NPS and the Topaz Museum Board of Directors, CyArk will be able to create a 3D digital reconstruction model of what the camp looked like in its days of use. From the CyArk website ( the public will have access to the 3D model as well as other interfaces that will allow them to zoom in on a specific barrack and learn about the individuals who occupied it through historic photographs and recorded audio interviews of surviving internees. This content will be shared and linked to from the Topaz Museum website as well ( CyArk Program Manager,...