Behind the Scenes: Exhibit Planning

This post details the planning for and progress on an exhibit scheduled for March 2018 in Hamilton Library.  The exhibit will commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the formation of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and will feature items from many of the collections here in the University Archives and Manuscripts Department that contain materials related to the famed unit.

The exhibit will have two parts, with the main portion upstairs in the Archives’ Moir Reading Room and a highlight / teaser display in the Library’s main lobby.

A view of the Moir reading room showing tables and exhibit cases.

Moir reading room view showing most of the exhibit cases.

I started initial brainstorming this exhibit a few of months ago, and proceeded on to more-focused project planning designed to ensure that everything will get completed in time.

Basic Gantt chart depicting planning for the 442nd RCT exhibit.

Including a very basic Gantt chart!

Exhibits at Hamilton are coordinated by the Library’s Exhibits Committee, which oversees scheduling and sets the policies all internal and external exhibit applicants must follow in order to put on displays in the building.  In the exhibit application form I described what I planned to feature where.

The main portion–up in the Moir Reading Room–will have six sections:

  1. Before The 442nd – The HTG, VVV, and the 100th Battalion  (4-7 items)
  2. The 442nd in Training on the Mainland  (4-7 items)
  3. The 442nd in Europe: Italy and France  (4-7 items)
  4. The 442nd in Europe: The 522nd Field Artillery Battalion at Dachau  (3-6 items)
  5. Beyond the 442nd: MIS & CIC Nisei in the Pacific Theater  (1-3 items)
  6. After the War: The 442nd in Memory and Culture  (6-10 items)

In addition to individually-captioned items, each of these six sections will feature an introductory label contextualizing those items.  Also, a somewhat longer label will introduce the exhibit as a whole.  In the downstairs lobby, meanwhile, two flat cases and additional signage will draw attention to the exhibit and direct visitors to see more in the Moir Reading Room.  (The lobby cases themselves will include a small introductory text and 6 captioned artifacts, one for each of the sections that will be explored in more depth upstairs.)

Since submitting my application and getting it approved, I have started going through the collections to come up with candidate documents/photos/artifacts for each section.  I am also going back to inventories and descriptions of past exhibits featuring JAVC materials in order to prevent this exhibit from looking too much like those.

Image of 442nd memorabilia, including a ‘Go For Broke’ CD, framed 'Journey of Heroes' comic panel, copy of ‘Unlikely Liberators’ with one of the oral history interview tapes used in the book, and a souvenir ‘Go For Broke’ pill cutter case

Items under consideration for the ‘442nd in Memory & Culture’ section: signed Jake Shimabukuro ‘Go For Broke’ CD, framed Damon Wong/Stacy Hayashi ‘Journey of Heroes’ comic panel, copy of Masayo Duus’s book ‘Unlikely Liberators’ with one of the oral history interview tapes she used as sources in the book, and a souvenir ‘Go For Broke’ pill cutter case.

Throughout the remainder of November I will be refining these selections, and expect to have a final item list sometime next month.  At that time I will start working on layout—consulting with the Library’s Preservation Department on any work that needs to be done to stabilize the items for display—and publicity, including planning for an opening event at the beginning of March.

Photo of 442nd Chaplain Hiro Higuchi reading a list of the unit's casualties at a memorial on June 26, 1944.

From back of print: 5th Army, Cecina Area, Italy: Protestant Chaplain Hiro Higuchi, Waipahu, Oahu, Hawaii, reads the names of the roll, each name represented by a star on the banner by which he stands. These 72 men represent the deaths in the 2nd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, suffered since this all Japanese American regiment went into action in Italy, June 26, 1944.

There’s plenty more to do before March, and I look forward to posting one or two updates as the project progresses!


One thought on “Behind the Scenes: Exhibit Planning

  1. Pingback: Exhibit Announcement – “Loyalty Honored: The 442nd RCT during WWII and as Remembered Since” | Archives & Manuscripts Department

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