George Takei Donates Collection and ‘Star Trek’ Memorabilia to the Japanese American National Museum

The actor's donation contains fan art given to him by devoted Trekkies.

Actor George Takei at the premiere of Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures. Courtesy of Jason Kempin/Getty Images.
Actor George Takei at the premiere of Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures. Courtesy of Jason Kempin/Getty Images.

Actor and activist George Takei is donating his collection of art and Star Trek memorabilia to the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. The institution is already planning an exhibition of the work, titled “New Frontiers: The Many Worlds of George Takei,” for March 2017.

Takei’s gift includes a wooden statue that his father, Takekuma (Norman) Takei, carved during the family’s incarceration at Arkansas’s Rohwer internment camp during World War II, as well as one-of-a-kind artworks made by the actor’s many fans.

Star Trek debuted on NBC fifty years ago this month, and the franchise continues to release hit films to this day. (In honor of the anniversary, CBBS has organized a travelling art exhibition titled “Star Trek: 50 Artists. 50 Years” that was on view at New York’s Paley Center for Media through September 25 and will be part of “Destination Star Trek Europe” in Birmingham, England, next month.)

The newly-donated collection also includes the actor’s photographs, correspondence, scripts, and awards; campaign materials from when Takei ran for Los Angeles City Council in 1973; the walking stick with which he climbed Japan’s Mount Fuji; and the torch he carried in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

“We are proud to be the stewards of this collection and will ensure that they are protected and accessible in perpetuity,” said Ann Burroughs, the museum’s interim president and CEO, in a statement.

George Takei attends the Star Trek: The Star Fleet Academy Experience at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on June 30, 2016 in New York City. Courtesy of Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

George Takei attends the Star Trek: The Star Fleet Academy Experience at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on June 30, 2016 in New York City. Courtesy of Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

“George is fearless in his stand against discrimination and injustice, and in his determination to take on the toughest social issues and protect the most vulnerable. He is an inspiration to the Japanese American community and to people across the world,” she added. “He and his husband, Brad, have assiduously collected and saved important artifacts that bring to life his many remarkable achievements.”

Takei previously played an instrumental role in the museum’s acquisition of artworks and artifacts that were controversially set to be auctioned at the Rago Arts and Auction Center in New Jersey.

Takekuma Norman Takei carved this statue while incarcerated at Arkansas's Rohwer internment camp during World War II. The piece is part of actor George Takei's donation to the Japanese American National Museum. Courtesy of the Japanese American National Museum.

Takekuma Norman Takei carved this statue while incarcerated at Arkansas’s Rohwer internment camp during World War II. The piece is part of actor George Takei’s donation to the Japanese American National Museum. Courtesy of the Japanese American National Museum.

The inaugural presentation of the Takei collection, curated by author, journalist, and cultural critic Jeff Yang, will explore his life through unique personal items being shown for the first time. According to the museum, Takei’s collection will serve as a prism through which viewers can learn more about “the constantly evolving fabric of America’s cultural identity, political outlook, social mores, and media landscape.”

New Frontiers: The Many Worlds of George Takei” will be on view at the Japanese American National Museum, 100 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles, March 12–August 20, 2017.


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