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The Crocker’s Big Secret: A Good News Story

There’s been another find in storage, though this time it’s not a forgotten work of art. Rather, thanks to the efforts of John Caswell, its registrar, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento now knows it played a positive role in a negative time of American history.

Caswell was apparently sorting through old museums records recently when he came upon contracts between the museum and Japanese-Americans who were interned during World War II — they provided for the museum to store art owned by those who were sent to internment camps.

According to the Capital Public Radio station, the Crocker “stored hundreds of art and artifacts for Japanese artists and their families … to ensure the safekeeping of art and family possessions.”

Caswell told the station:

I noticed that in red at the top of these pages were names written and they were all Japanese names. 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.'”

The museum later returned the art works to their owners or representative after the camps were closed, the records show. Here’s a look at one of them:

Crocker-WWI contract



  1. Stew Mosberg says:

    Great find! Talk about restitution. And museums still
    hold art looted by the Nazis? What’s wrong with this picture? Yes, I know, now quite the same circumstances, but …

  2. Annonymous says:

    I think the point with the Crocker story is that they held and returned the works and that John had found the receipts that tell the story that people had forgotten. So, No nothing like the Nazi situation.

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