Interior layout of the museum. (McGehee Area Chamber of Commerce)

McGEHEE, Ark. — The McGehee Industrial Foundation announces the opening of the World War II Japanese American Internment Museum in April.

It will house the exhibit “Against Their Will,” interpreting the period when the Japanese American population was moved from the West Coast to ten internment camps across the country.

Two of those camps, Jerome and Rohwer, were located in southeast Arkansas. More than 17,000 Japanese Americans were relocated to those camps after being forced to leave behind their homes and jobs. The museum chronicles various aspects of camp life, including schools, hospitals, recreation and organizations.

Most internees returned to the West Coast following the war, and the U.S. government formally apologized in 1988.

Actor and author George Takei (“Star Trek,” “Supah Ninjas”) was moved with his family to the Rohwer camp when he was 5. Last summer, wayside signage was installed at the memorial cemetery at Rohwer, with audio by Takei. He is expected to attend the museum dedication, in mid-April, along with Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe.

Former McGehee Mayor Rosalie S. Gould began a dream of embracing this history more than 30 years ago. Her friendships with returning former internees enhanced the awareness of this dark time in American history. Her vast collection of art, documents and memorabilia was donated to the Butler Center (Little Rock) in 2010.

The museum is located in the south end of a historic railroad depot at 100 S. Railroad St., downtown McGehee. It will be open to visitors at no cost Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information, call (870) 222-9168.

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  1. I was delighted to read about the new Rohwer/Jerome Museum. Back in 2003, my nephew and I visited Rohwer and were directed to Mayor Rosalie Gould’s home. She not only welcomed us, she showed us some of the art work in the camp. Over the years, she has been a real friend to Japanese-Americans. Establishing the new museum in McGehee is just the most recent of her contributions. I hope she receives all the credit she deserves.