© 2024 Wyoming Public Media
800-729-5897 | 307-766-4240
Wyoming Public Media is a service of the University of Wyoming
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Transmission & Streaming Disruptions

A Wyoming nonprofit that operates a museum at a former internment site joins the Smithsonian network

An exhibit shows pictures of Japanese-Americans working in a field at Heart Mountain Internment camp.
Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation
Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation runs a museum and interpretive center at a former interment site in northwest Wyoming.

A nonprofit that operates a museum at a former Japanese American internment site in northwest Wyoming is now a Smithsonian affiliate.

The Smithsonian added Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation to its network of museums earlier this month.

Executive Director Aura Sunada Newlin said this will allow the nonprofit to tell the story of what happened to Japanese Americans during World War II to a larger audience.

“We want for all Americans to know about that history and why that happened and understand that it was more about racial tensions and war history and failed political leadership than it was about a national security risk,” she said.

Around 14,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated at the Heart Mountain site near Cody from 1942 to 1945.

Sunada Newlin says the nonprofit is joining the Smithsonian network at a critical time. This summer Heart Mountain plans on hosting the largest annual pilgrimageof Japanese Americans to the former incarceration site since it opened in 2011.

During that week in July, the nonprofit will open a new conference center and archive aimed at fostering bipartisan dialogue and cooperation.

Heart Mountain is the second museum in Wyoming to join the Smithsonian affiliate network, alongside the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody.

Olivia Weitz is based at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody. She covers Yellowstone National Park, wildlife, and arts and culture throughout the region. Olivia’s work has aired on NPR and member stations across the Mountain West. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom story workshop. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, cooking, and going to festivals that celebrate folk art and music.
Related Content