INDEPENDENCE — From the earliest planning efforts, partners, stakeholders and the public have emphasized that it is critical that visitors understand what life was like for 11,070 Japanese Americans confined at Manzanar during World War II.
To that end, the National Park Service is soliciting comments on proposed interpretive exhibits for two barracks reconstructed in 2010. Barracks 1 appears as it would have when Japanese Americans first arrived at Manzanar in 1942, while Barracks 8 represents later life. Both buildings were reconstructed on Block 14, adjacent to the Visitor Center.
The NPS is also seeking comments on a “Master Plan” for exterior exhibits and elements on Block 14.
“Reflecting upon our Visitor Center and Block 14 Mess Hall exhibits, the input from our involved public has been so vital to telling Manzanar’s stories,” said Superintendent Les Inafuku. “By continuing to help us with your remembrances and input, visitors will soon be able to learn so much more about daily life in Block 14.”
Designers from Drisko Studios, the Office of Krister Olmon, and Harvest Moon Studio collaborated with NPS staff to develop exhibit concepts and content based on input from a February 2012 public exhibit planning meeting at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Los Angeles and the August 2012 Manzanar Schools Reunion in Las Vegas.
The exhibit proposal, known as a Design Development II (DDII) document, and the Master Plan are available on the Manzanar website at www.nps.gov/manz/parkmgmt/planning.htm. The exhibit plan includes descriptions for the proposed exhibits in each apartment, plans and elevations, and the preliminary graphic layouts.
The graphic layouts show preliminary text and images for many of the exhibits in Barracks 1. The graphic panels for Barracks 8 are less defined and should be reviewed for the subject matter titles and organization only. The nature of the content in Barracks 8 dictates a more deliberate approach to the interpretive development.
Future plans for Block 14 include reconstructing one or more additional buildings in the block such as latrines, a laundry room or an ironing room. Friends of Manzanar (www.friendsofmanzanar.org) is working to raise funds for these structures.
Those wishing to submit written comments on the plans can do so via email to MANZ_Superintendent@nps.gov or by writing to Superintendent Inafuku, Manzanar NHS, PO Box 426, Independence, CA 93526. Comments are requested no later than July 21. After reviewing comments and input, the design team will work with NPS staff to refine plans into a final project.
Manzanar National Historic Site is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence. The visitor center is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. For more information, call (760) 878-2194, ext. 3310 or visit the website at www.nps.gov/manz or Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ManzanarNationalHistoricSite.