JANM President and CEO Ann Burroughs shares plans to renovate the museum at the launch of the “Our Promise” campaign on Aug. 5. (Photo by Kazz Morohashi)

The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) on Aug. 5 launched the public phase of its historic $65 million comprehensive fundraising campaign and announced an ambitious plan for the future that includes a renovation of the museum’s galleries and a new core exhibition.

Thanks to the overwhelming response from the community, specifically 59 leadership gifts of $100,000 and above, the “Our Promise” campaign has raised $48 million to date, 74% of the goal.

“JANM’s founders promised that the museum would stand as a beacon of civil rights to ensure that what happened to Japanese Americans in 1942 would never happen to any other group,” said Ann Burroughs, president and CEO of JANM. “Therefore, JANM is embarking on the largest campaign in its history to secure its future and transform its physical and digital presence, exhibitions, and programming.”

“I encourage you to talk to your friends, talk to your neighbors everyone and support our campaign. You will help us revitalize, amplify and delier and security JANM’s future for generations,” said William Fujioka, chair of the JANM Board of Trustees.

At the launch, Consul General Kenko Sone read a statement from Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in support of JANM’s mission:

“JANM preserves the history of Japanese Americans and provides an excellent opportunity for the peoples of Japan and the United States to deepen their understanding of such history and to learn more about the societies of both countries. During my visit as foreign minister in 2013, I was deeply touched by the weight of Japanese American history and renewed my respect for the Japanese Americans.”

The campaign includes $20 million to redesign and repurpose JANM’s main campus to provide cohesive, and dynamic spaces for audiences. Work is scheduled to begin in January 2025.

To complete the renovations, the Museum Pavilion, home to JANM’s main galleries, will close to the public on Dec. 31, 2024. During the renovation, key JANM exhibitions will tour around the country. The Historic Building and National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, both located directly across the plaza, will remain open for programming.

The campaign will raise funds to revitalize, amplify, deliver, and secure the museum’s future. The target date for the Pavilion reopening is in late 2026. 

At the center of the renovation will be a new core exhibition, “In the Future We Call Now: Realities of Racism, Dreams of Democracy,” which will span the period from early immigration in the 1800s to today with a nod to the future that includes interpretive strategies to allow visitors in the present to reckon with and understand experiences and issues of the past and the future.

The core exhibition is supported in whole by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library. The exhibition will replace the current exhibition, “Common Ground,” and will be relocated to newly redesigned galleries totalling 10,150 square feet on the first floor. 

Visitors will encounter the new galleries through a relocated entrance into Aratani Central Hall, which will be transformed into a new lobby. JANM’s second-floor galleries will be reconfigured to include 6,300 square feet of continuous galleries that will allow JANM to present larger special exhibitions. Necessary improvements to heating, ventilation, and cooling for visitor comfort and the preservation of JANM’s historic collections are also planned.

From left: William Fujioka, chair of the JANM Board of Trustees; Darlene Kuba, owner, Kuba & Associates; Rep. Mark Takano; Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solids; Consul General of Japan Kenko Sone and his wife, Mami Sone; Ann Burroughs, president and CEO of JANM; Jennifer Hirano, business development analyst for Alphabet and JANM governor; Josh Morey, president and CEO of Ori-Gen and JANM governor. (Photo by Kazz Morohashi)

In addition to the capital improvements, the Our Promise campaign includes funds to:

• Activate the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy as a platform for civic engagement with events and issues that shape our nation — such as race, the fragility of democracy, shared values, civil rights and social justice, and the arts ($7.5 million).

• Power the museum’s ability to tell stories in bold new ways, create new experiences using smart technology, share its resources nationally, and provide learning opportunities with general operating support ($17.5 million).

• Secure JANM’s future by endowing core functions ($20 million).

• “A successful comprehensive campaign will sustain JANM’s future for generations to come, enabling us to honor and amplify the great promise and vision of our founders. That is why my husband Larry (Pittman) and I made an early commitment to the campaign and encourage everyone who embraces our mission and values to join us,” said Wendy Shiba, campaign chair and member of the JANM Board of Trustees.

JANM will also be hosting in-person and virtual comprehensive campaign briefings in August, September, and October: 

Wednesday, Aug. 30, 4 to 6 p.m., Tateuchi Democracy Forum

RSVP: https://9644p.blackbaudhosting.com/9644p/Campaign-Briefing

Friday, Sept. 22, to 2 p.m., virtual (Zoom link to be emailed)


Thursday, Oct. 19, 3 to 5 p.m., Tateuchi Democracy Forum


Since the campaign’s launch in 2018, lead gifts for the comprehensive campaign to date include institutional gifts from MacKenzie Scott ($10 million); The Ford Foundation ($5.6 million); Perenchio Foundation ($2.5 million); Aratani Foundation ($1.9 million); L.A. Arts Recovery Fund ($1.5 million); The Ahmanson Foundation ($616,000); MUFG Bank, Ltd. ($500,000); Toyota Motor Sales, USA ($639,400); and Sony Group Corporation (in-kind); as well as numerous generous individual donors, including 100% participation from JANM’s Board of Trustees.

Learn more about the museum’s four campaign promises, read featured stories, register for upcoming events, browse press releases, view press gallery images, download fact sheets, and more at janm.org/OurPromise.

Prime Minister’s Statement

Following is the full text of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s statement.


I congratulate the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) for marking its 30th anniversary in 2022 and for stepping into a new era. I also extend my deepest gratitude to all the Japanese Americans, businesses, organizations, and individuals who have generously supported JANM and helped strengthen the relationship between Japan and the United States.

The post-Cold War era is coming to an end and the international community is facing a turning point in history. The Japan-U.S. alliance, which plays a critical role in maintaining peace and prosperity in the region and the world, is more important than ever. Our unwavering alliance is bolstered by the trust and friendship between the peoples of the two countries, which have been cultivated through multifaceted people-to-people exchanges.

In particular, the Japanese Americans have overcome numerous difficulties and contributed to the prosperity of American society over the past century, earning the trust and respect of the American people. Their presence and efforts have not only contributed to a deeper mutual understanding between the peoples of Japan and the United States but also have inspired the Japanese people in Japan and the United States.

JANM preserves the history of Japanese Americans and provides an excellent opportunity for the peoples of Japan and the United States to deepen their understanding of such history and to learn more about the societies of both countries. During my visit as foreign minister in 2013, I was deeply touched by the weight of Japanese American history and renewed my respect for the Japanese Americans.

In 1993, then Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiichi, a fellow statesman from Hiroshima, sent a message expressing his hope that JANM would serve as a bridge between Japan and the United States. Throughout its three-decade history, JANM has indeed played a magnificent role as the bridge and is about to open a new chapter.

Bearing in mind the history of Japanese Americans, President Biden and I paid tribute to the history, contributions, and cultural traditions of Japanese Americans and called on younger generations to participate more actively in mutual exchanges and cooperation between Japan and the United States in our joint statement issued during the president’s visit to Japan in May 2022. It is my hope that the younger generation, including Japanese Americans, will carry on the memory and legacy of their predecessors and follow in our footsteps as leaders of a new era and work for the Japan-U.S. relations.

I hope that JANM will make even greater strides while handing over to the younger generations the bonds between our two countries, which share universal values such as democracy and human rights, with your continued understanding and support.

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