Pride and Shame (exhibition)

Early exhibition on the history of Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest that was one of the first to highlight the wartime incarceration experience. After its 1970 debut at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) in Seattle, Washington, a traveling version of Pride and Shame followed that toured numerous venues over the next five years. It was among several key exhibitions that reflected a growing consciousness about the incarceration from this time period.

The exhibition originated in early 1970 when MOHAI contacted Seattle Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) president Tomio Moriguchi about collaborating on a Japan-related exhibition to commemorate the 1970 World Expo in Osaka. The JACL agreed to collaborate on an exhibition focusing on the local Japanese American community, to be completed on a $600 budget. The JACL reached out to many organizations and individuals in the local community, including many Japanese American churches, the Nisei Veterans Committee, and many others, who contributed time and objects. The title for the exhibition came from the 1965 CBS documentary The Nisei: The Pride and the Shame . [1]

The exhibition provided a broad overview of the Japanese American experience that included the immigration and prewar experience, the anti-Japanese movement, Nisei soldiers during World War II, and the challenges facing the Sansei generation. The section on the wartime incarceration consisted of three photo and text panels, accompanied by a full-size replica of a barracks interior, designed and constructed by a team led by Harold Kawaguchi. Expecting a more innocuous Japanese culture type exhibition, MOHAI's director was initially disturbed by the inclusion of the prewar racism faced by the community and of the wartime incarceration and tried to have it removed, but the exhibition committee successfully kept it all in. The exhibition opened on July 7, 1970 and ran for three months. [2]

The exhibition's second act was a traveling version. Kenneth Hopkins, director of the Washington State Capitol Museum, approached Moriguchi about putting together a grant proposal for a traveling version to the National Endowment for the Humanities. Moriguchi recruited University of Washington Professor Minoru Masuda to help with the grant writing. Their proposal for $8,571 was partially funded by NEH for $6,500 in March 1971. The exhibition committee reworked the exhibition for its travels. Local artist Frank Fujii designed a logo for the exhibition that would become widely used in the years to come by redress proponents. An important part of the traveling exhibition would be panel discussions that included local community members, coming at a time when relatively few Japanese Americans willing talked about the darker aspects of their history. The new version previewed in several venues in December 1972 and opened at Evergreen State College in January 1973. Over the next year, it toured many community college and high school venues, mostly for just a weekend. In April 1973, the group received a second NEH grant for $5,000 for further travels. The final venue was Western Washington State College in early 1975, though the exhibit would continue to be shown at special events and early Days of Remembrance . [3]

An estimated 100,000 people saw the exhibition during its tour and many others no doubt heard or read about it. Along with other traveling exhibitions such as Executive Order 9066 and Months of Waiting , Pride and Shame was both a cause and a result of increasing community interest and acceptance of the wartime incarceration experience during this time period.

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

For More Information

Shephard, Allison. "'Pride and Shame':
The Museum Exhibit that Helped Launch the Japanese American Redress Movement." Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project website, 2006, .

Shimabukuro, Robert Sadamu. Born in Seattle: The Campaign for Japanese American Redress . Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001.


  1. Robert Sadamu Shimabukuro, Born in Seattle: The Campaign for Japanese American Redress (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001), 4–5; Allison Shephard, "'Pride and Shame':
The Museum Exhibit that Helped Launch the Japanese American Redress Movement," Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project website, 2006, accessed on July 13, 2013 at .
  2. Shephard, "'Pride and Shame'"; Shimabukuro, Born in Seattle , 4–5.
  3. Shimabukuro, Born in Seattle , 10–11; June Shimokawa, "Seattle Nikkei Community Previews 'Pride and Shame' Travel Exhibition," Pacific Citizen , January 21, 1972, 6; Pacific Citizen , February 18, 1972, 1; Pacific Citizen , Aprril 20, 1973, 3.

Last updated Feb. 1, 2024, 10:15 p.m..