Academics and Research

Exhibit enlists archaeological artifacts to explore life at internment camp

This homemade bucket is among the Amache artifacts on display at the DU Museum of Anthropology. Photo: Christian Driver

A child’s plastic barrette. A jar of pumpkin seeds. An enameled tin cup.

An empty ink jar. A glass candy container. Three marbles.

These are among the telling artifacts on display at Connecting the Pieces: Dialogues on the Amache Archaeology Collection, a new exhibit at DU’s Museum of Anthropology. The objects, unearthed by DU archeologists, provide a touchstone to Amache, an internment camp for more than 10,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II.

The exhibit is open to the public from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday, through July 20, in Sturm Hall, Room 102. An opening reception will be held from 4–6 p.m. today. Admission is free.

“The exhibit is designed to encourage conversation between the community and students,” says Bonnie Clark, associate professor of anthropology. Clark has led ongoing archaeological research at the Amache site for six years.

Clark is assisted by archaeology students from DU and other universities and colleges, as well as by volunteers from the community, including several people who lived at the camp as children or had relatives who lived at the camp.

A placard at the exhibit’s entrance says: “During World War II, Colorado’s 10th largest city was Amache, a one-mile square incarceration facility surrounded by barbed wire, guard towers, and the scrub of the High Plains.’’

Amache was one of 10 Japanese internment camps opened in the United States during World War II.

Exhibit artifacts were chosen by students, working with community members, Clark says. A placard near each object offers an interpretation of the object through the eyes of a student and a community member.

Visitors are encouraged to join the dialogue by posting sticky notes to a designated wall. The notes answer such questions as: “What does it mean to be an American?” and “Where was your family during World War II?”


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