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Japanese American National Museum: Museum Collections

General Information

Facility: Japanese American National Museum
100 North Central Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 625-0414
FAX: (213) 625-1770
Email: N/A
Hours: Hours of operation

About the museum:

Housed in the Hongwanji Temple in the heart of L.A.'s Little Tokyo, the Japanese American National Museum was founded in 1985 and opened to the public in 1992.

The museum is the first museum in America dedicated to preserving and sharing the experience of Japanese Americans as an integral part of United States history, with over 60,000 items within its permanent collection.


A list of links to the collections currently digitized and available for viewing from the Japanese American National Museum.

An online collection of the Japanese American National Museum's home-movie footage, including over 330 film clips about the daily lives of Japanese Americans from the 1920s into the 1960s.

Online Resources

The Hirasaki National Resource Center provides access to the Japanese American National Museum's collections for over 8,000 researchers per year. This website allows researchers to gather information about the process of performing research at the Center, as well as to submit requests to access specific collections.

A list of online resources provided by the Hirasaki National Resource Center, including a mass incarceration fact sheet, a list of related websites, a Japanese American military experience database, and more.

A list of current, past, and upcoming exhibits at the Japanese American National Museum.

A calendar of events, both open to the public or closed to members, occurring at the Japanese American National Museum.

Summary of Collections

Summary of Collections: as of March 2014

The Japanese American National Museum holds over 60,000 unique items relating to the experiences of Japanese Americans in their permanent collection. An increasing number of these collections are being digitized and include rich collections of art and photography created by Japanese-American Internees during World War II, as well as a growing collection of home movies. Please see the databases and online resources sections for further details.

Notable collections:

  • Clara Breed Collection: this collection focuses on the librarian's correspondence with young Japanese Americans during their internment during World War II.
  • Buddhist Churches of America: this collection documents events sponsored by or held at Buddhist temples from the 1920s through the 1940s.
  • Hideo Date collection: over 170 items from the 1930s through the early 2000s from New York City-based artist Hideo Date.
  • Stanley Hayami Diary: the diary chronicles the daily life, 1941-1944, of Stanley Hayami, a Japanese American soldier who died in battle on April 23, 1945.
  • Hisako Hibi Collection: includes sixty-three oil paintings by Hisako Hibi created at the Tanforan Assembly Center in California Topaz concentration camp in Utah between 1942 and 1945, including portrayals of various daily activities.
  • George Hoshida Collection: Includes over 260 drawings and watercolors drawn from Hoshida's visual diary covering his incarceration in various concentration camps throughout the duration of World War II.
  • Estelle Ishigo Collection: over 120 drawings, sketches, and watercolors portraying life in the Pomona detention center in California and in the Heart Mountain, Wyoming camp during World War II.
  • Jack Iwata Collection: over 170 photographs taken at Manzanar and Tule Lake concentration camps between 1942 and 1945.
  • Barbara Kawakami Collection: includes textiles and other artifacts from the late 19th through the 20th century, collected by Barbara Kawakami primarily in Hawai'i, and is considered the most significant collection of Issei immigration and plantation clothing in the world.
  • Toyo Miyatake Studio/Rafu Shimpo Collection: a selection of over 9,500 negatives and photographs documenting the Japanese American community from 1950 to 1988 taken by the Toyo Miyatake Studio for the Rafu Shimpo, one of the oldest and most widely read Japanese American newspapers in the country.
  • Walter Muramoto Collection: a collection of 361 photographs detailing daily life in Rohwer, Arkansas between 1942 and 1945.
  • Benji Okubo Collection: comprised of paintings from the 1920s through the mid-1940s, including commentaries on militarism, isolation, and political upheaval.
  • Mine Okubo Collection: approximately 200 drawings by Mine Okubo, illustrating her life in the Tanforan assembly center in San Burno, CA and the Topaz concentration camp in Utah during World War II.
  • Mori Shimada Collection: a collection of scrapbooks featuring photographs of friends, family, and social and sporting events in Heart Mountain concentration camp.
  • Henry Sugimoto Collection: Over 130 paintings from the 1930s to the 1950s, depicting several concentration camps.

How to Use the Facility

Visiting the Museum

The Japanese American National Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, and closed Mondays and major holidays (Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day). Visitors may enter up to 30 minutes before closing.

For admission costs, hours, and other information, please visit the museum's Visit the Museum page.

Use of Collections

Research within the permanent collections at the Japanese American National Museum is handled through the Hirasaki National Resource Center. Requests to access the museum's permanent collection can be made to the Collections Management & Access Unit at (213) 830-5620 or by email.

Artifact Donation

The Japanese American National Museum accepts personal collections pertaining to the experiences of Japanese Americans. Parties interested in donating such a collection or interested in a family collection currently held by the museum can contact the Collections Management and Access Unit at (213) 830-5620 or by email.

For more information, please visit the museum's Artifact Donation webpage.

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North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources
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