Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum stored hundreds of art and artifacts for Japanese artists and their families who were sent to internment camps in the 1940s. The gallery wanted to ensure the safekeeping of art and family possessions. John Caswell is with The Crocker. Caswell says he was going through the museum's old files and discovered contracts documenting the acceptance of art.
"And I noticed that in red at the top of these pages were names written and they were all Japanese names," says Caswell. "As soon as I pulled one and read that first statement in there, it was a real, to put it politely, an 'oh my God moment' that I said by myself in the storeroom."
Caswell reads what was written in a typical contract: "It says that 'it is agreed between the party of the first part and the E.B. Crocker Art Gallery that the above listed items are accepted for storage without charge during the conditions arising from the war between Japan and the United States, more particularly the enforced removal of the Japanese from the Sacramento area.'"
Caswell also found documents showing the return of the artwork to the owners or their representatives after the internment camps were closed.
Revelations of The Crocker's role in storing artwork during World War II came on the heels of last week's vote by the Sacramento City Council officially repealing a 70 year old law supporting Japanese internment.