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This exhibition features fifty photographs by Ansel Adams of the Japanese American relocation camp in Manzanar, California, during World War II. These photographs were the subject of his controversial book Born Free and Equal, published in 1944 while the war was still on, protesting the treatment of these American citizens.

Adams’s Manzanar work is a departure from his signature style of landscape photography. Although a majority of the photographs are portraits, the images also include views of daily life, agricultural scenes, and sports and leisure activities.


Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator Emeritus, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, in his essay for the exhibition writes, “This exhibition recounts one of the darkest moments in the history of the United States, one that the distinguished author John Hersey referred to as ‘a mistake of terrifyingly horrible proportions.’ It is a story of ignorance and prejudice, but also a story of perseverance and nobility. What happened should never be forgotten so that it should never happen again.” Johnson continues, “This is not only an art exhibition, a history lesson, or a study in race relations; it is all three. My hope is that it educates us about an unfortunate moment in our country’s history that must be better understood. It also should serve as a warning as to what can occur when emotion and fear overwhelm clarity and courage.”

These Adams Manzanar photographs from 1943 were shown in the exhibition BORN FREE AND EQUAL: An Exhibition of Ansel Adams Photographs, organized by the Fresno Metropolitan Museum of Art, History and Science in 1984 and are later prints from the original negatives in the Library of Congress.

Also included in the exhibition are more than twenty-five various photographs, documents, and works of art that further record this era.

An eight page gallery guide has been published for the exhibition.

The exhibition is organized by Photographic Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA.

Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams will be on exhibit from May 22 – August 29, 2015

Listen to the May 12 Diane Rehm Show for more information about the WWII relocation camps:  The Internment Of Japanese Americans During World War II”