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Guest Author | 12/03/2020 | Art Shows, Arts and Culture

Now Showing at the Benton County Museum

Families and history buffs looking for a fun afternoon should check out the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon.

The Benton County Historical Society’s Philomath Museum is currently open Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. No appointment is necessary, but masks and contact tracing information are required of all visitors. Admission is free.

The Benton County Historical Society examines the complex history of WWII Japanese American incarceration camps through a Smithsonian poster exhibition, opening Aug. 21, 2020, and running through the year.

Pledging allegiance to the flag at Raphael Weill Public School in San Francisco, 1942. Dorothea Lange, Courtesy of National Archives.Pledging allegiance to the flag at Raphael Weill Public School in San Francisco, 1942. Dorothea Lange, Courtesy of National Archives.    The Philomath Museum will host the Smithsonian poster exhibition “Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II” opening August 21, 2020. A closing date has not yet been established. The exhibition examines the complicated history and impact of Executive Order 9066 that led to the incarceration of Japanese Americans following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Embracing themes that are as relevant today as they were 75 years ago, “Righting a Wrong” looks at immigration, prejudice, civil rights, heroism and what it means to be an American. The poster exhibition centers around eight core questions that encourage viewers to engage in a dialogue about how this happened, and could it happen again.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan Dec. 7, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which sent 75,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry and 45,000 Japanese nationals to incarceration camps. They were transported far from their homes to 10 large, barbed wire-enclosed incarceration camps and dozens of other installations scattered west of the Mississippi, from March 1942 to March 1946. Young and old lived crowded together in the hastily built camps, endured poor living conditions and were under the constant watch of military guards. Meanwhile, brave Japanese American men risked their lives fighting for the United States.

Some 40 years later, members of the Japanese American community led the nation to confront the wrong it had done. The U.S. Congress formally recognized that the rights of the Japanese American community had been violated, and President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, providing an apology and restitution to the living Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II.

The exhibition will also include colorful and diverse kimono from the private collection of Corvallis artist Karen Illman Miller.

“Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II” was developed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and adapted for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The traveling exhibition and poster exhibition are supported by a grant from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center; the Terasaki Family Foundation and C.L. Ehn & Ginger Lew.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit

"Soap Creek Artisans and Friends" will be open at Benton County Museum from Nov. 13, 2020 through Jan. 9, 2021. The Soap Creek Artisans are a group of talented artists based in Benton County, Oregon's beautiful Soap Creek Valley. The Soap Creek Artists include Joe Crocket, Judy Moon, Dale Draeger, Sam Hoffman, Vicki Idema, and Ann Lahr. The 2020 guest artists are Rhoda Fleischman and Dominique Bachelet.

Enjoy a visit to Oregon’s past and present! Located six miles west of Corvallis on Hwy 20/34, at 1101 Main Street, Philomath, Oregon, the Benton County Historical Society operates the Museum facilities for the preservation of history and culture. Its goal is to preserve the material culture of Benton County, Oregon. It strives to enrich people’s lives through interesting exhibitions and educational programs. Please call (541) 929-6230 for more information or visit their website.

Article by Mark Tolonen, Curator of Exhibitions at the Benton County Museum. Photos courtesy the Benton County Museum and the National Archives. Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happenings by signing up for our email newsletter.

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Please Note: Benton County, Oregon, is currently rated "High Risk" according to Oregon's new COVID-19 safety framework. Learn what this means for you. Masks are required for those 5 years old and above in all indoor public spaces and in outdoor public spaces where a physical distance of at least six feet cannot be maintained. Travelers are advised to stay home. Businesses may be operating with altered hours, requiring appointments, and/or have additional safety requirements in place. Please call ahead to businesses you're interested in visiting to confirm if they're open and what they're requiring.
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