Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams

February 19, 2022 - September 11, 2022


Exhibition EXTENDED!

Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams features over fifty little-known photographs by Ansel Adams (1902–1984) that depict how Japanese Americans bore their treatment at the Manzanar incarceration camp in central California. Taken during World War II, the black and white images were originally published in Adams’ book Born Free and Equal (1944) in which he protested what he called the "enforced exodus" of American citizens within their own country.

The exhibition opens on the 80th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 authorizing the Secretary of War to "exclude" any residents from certain West Coast military areas for “protection against espionage and sabotage." Pressured by the fear, prejudice and escalating racism sweeping the nation after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the government of the United States forced the incarceration of entire families totaling to about 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese descent, the majority of whom were native-born Americans or legal residents.

In the exhibition, Adams’s portfolio is complemented by the work of other photographers, including Dorothea Lange. Also on view are documents, publications, propaganda materials, artifacts, and artwork detailing life and conditions at the camp.

Working closely with the Sonoma County chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, the Museum also presents a selection of stories, objects, and images related to the experience of Sonoma County residents who faced forced incarceration in camps like Manzanar during the war.

Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams offers insight into a racially unjust period in California and American history and bears witness to the resilience of the Japanese American community. Adams’ intent was to create an important historical document and have it be “put to good use.” Even as anti-Asian racism has made the news in recent years with the emergence of the Stop Asian Hate movement, its roots run deep in the history of the United States. This exhibition is an important lesson about the past injustice done to a community because of their national origin and race, delivered 80 years after one of America’s most horrific decisions.


The exhibition is presented in Memory of Shizuo Tsujihara, and organized and generously supported by Photographic Traveling Exhibitions Los Angeles, CA.

Additional support comes from the Sonoma County Japanese American Citizens League.


Pictured (left to right): Roy Takeno outside Free Press Office, 1943; Mr. and Mrs. Henry J. Tsurutani and baby Bruce, 1943; Manzanar Street Scene, Spring, 1943

Virtual Experience

Explore the exhibition through 360° imaging! 

This virtual experience is generously provided by Steve Vargas, VARGAS XR "Mind Over Matter."

Museum of Sonoma County
425 Seventh Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
(707) 579-1500

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The mission of the Museum of Sonoma County is to engage and inspire our diverse community with art and history exhibitions, collections, and public programs that are inclusive, educational, and relevant.