Confined Citizens: The Amache-Granada Relocation Center, 1942-1945 (exhibition)


Section within the Colorado Stories exhibition, a permanent installation at the History Colorado Center in Denver that was part of its 2012 grand opening.

The History Colorado Center is the latest incarnation of the state history museum that was first created by the State Historical Society of Colorado in the mid-19th century. When the prior Colorado History Museum was displaced by an expansion of the Colorado Judicial Branch, the legislature authorized funding for a new history center a block south of former site and near the Denver Public Library and Denver Art Museum. Groundbreaking for the new facility took place in 2009, and the $110 million facility designed by local architect David Tryba opened on April 28, 2012.

Led by State Historian William J. Convery III, the exhibitions for the new museum took a different tack from the old. In aiming for a more diverse and younger audience, the museum moved away from a chronological approach towards a thematic one and took an audience-centered rather than a traditional curator-centered approach to creating the exhibitions. The three main thematic areas were to be Colorado Stories, on various communities in Colorado; Living West, on the interaction between humans and the environment; and Dreams & Visions. At the time of the grand opening, only Colorado Stories had been completed.

In creating the 9,500 square foot Colorado Stories exhibition, exhibition developers began with a large list of communities they whittled down to twenty-five. They then used surveys and audience testing to bring it down to the final eight. The highest scoring potential topic in the surveys was the story of Amache. Other community stories that made the final cut included Lincoln Hills, a mid-20th century African American resort; Bent's Fort, an 1830s and 1840s trading post; and the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864. The developers worked with community members in formulating the exhibition content, a process that was often contentious. Local Japanese Americans as well as the Los Angeles-based Amache Historical Society objected to a number of aspects of the early scripts, including plans to depict a barracks that had been modified by inmates—they feared it would look too "nice," as barracks at other museum exhibitions had—the triumphalist portrayal of redress, and the proposed title, "A Test of Loyalty." The final title to the Amache section of the exhibition did eventually get changed to Confined Citizens: The Amache-Granada Relocation Center, 1942–1945.

The centerpiece of the Confined Citizens section is the recreated Amache barracks. There are also sections on the eviction from the West Coast; on Colorado Governor Ralph Carr, the only Western state governor who opposed the incarceration of American citizens; and the aftermath of the camp and the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. In her review of the exhibit in The Journal of American History, Janet Ore calls the Amache section the "most moving exhibit" in the museum.[1]

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

"Amache-Granada Relocation Center" online exhibit, History Colorado Center website, http://exhibits.historycolorado.org/amache/amache_home.html.

Convery, William J., III. "Colorado Stories: Interpreting Colorado History for Public Audiences at the History Colorado Center." Ph.D. dissertation, University of New Mexico, 2012.

Ore, Janet. "Review of History Colorado Center, Denver, Colo." Journal of American History 100.1 (June 2013): 165–69.

Rothstein, Edward. "A State Looks at Itself in a New Mirror." New York Times, April 28, 2012, C-1.

Footnotes

  1. Janet Ore, "Review of History Colorado Center, Denver, Colo," Journal of American History 100.1 (June 2013), p. 168.