Current Exhibitions

Poster for Imprisoned at Home exhibit shows images of Tule Lake incarceration camp and says Persist Insist Resist

Visitors can follow the journey of several individuals and their families who were held behind barbed wire at the maximum security Tule Lake Segregation Center that housed more than 18,000 people of Japanese ancestry during the war. Students in the museum studies program at CSU, Chico, in collaboration with members of the Japanese American community, erected a replica barrack unit of the Tule Lake center. On display are interactive audio/visual installations and artifacts of daily life in the camp, such as identification pins, personal censored letters, hand-made playing cards, artwork, shell ornaments, wooden toys, and newspapers - all made by incarcerees in an effort to normalize their disrupted lives.

A documentary film about local resident Jim Tanimoto, 94 years old, is also featured in the exhibit. He tells his story so that the younger generation of Americans might continue to protect their civil rights. The exhibit ends with an art table to process the powerful messages contained in the exhibit.

The Grand Opening of Imprisoned at Home coincided with California’s Fred Korematsu Day, which commemorates the life and activism of a national civil rights advocate. Imprisoned during WWII, Mr. Korematsu spoke up about injustice and racism against the American citizens of Japanese descent who were forcibly imprisoned. In 1983 the US District Court overturned his conviction and in 1998 he was awarded the Medal of Freedom by the White House. In 2010 the California legislature declared Jan 30, Fred Korematsu Day.

The exhibit features a quilt that was thrown over the barbed-wire fence by a stranger into the arms of a Shizuko Ina, who was pregnant.

Learn more about this powerful story at the 50 Objects/Stories The American Japanese INCARCERATION

Read the story of "Shizuko's Quaker Quilt" on the website now.

The exhibition gives voice to significant questions that continue to have meaning in our democracy:  Who is a citizen? Are human rights universal? When can one dissent and is it a constitutional right? What can we learn from history?

Exhibition poster for the Reimagining Chico: The Archaeology of Our Neighborhoods exhibit.  Photos of old Chico maps, Chico Chinatown and early residents.  Exhibit runs September 5 - December 8, 2018.

In an exhibition that explores Chico neighborhoods through the artifacts found on archaeological digs, visitors are invited into a world almost unrecognizable today. 

Two separate excavations in Chico have yielded historical artifacts that shed light on daily life more than a Century ago. One excavation took place on the Chico State Campus and yielded historic artifacts from boarding houses dating to the early 1900s.  The other excavation will connect visitors with the long abandoned historic Chinatown of Chico.

Visitors can turn their eye towards the present and learn about Chico’s South Campus Neighborhood Project - the award-winning neighborhood improvement planning effort coordinated by the Resilient Cities Initiative at California State University, Chico and the Public Works-Engineering Division at the City of Chico.  Learn how modern anthropological methods captured the perspectives of residents in Chico’s most historic, diversely-used, and dense neighborhood.

Explore Chico’s past and present through interactive archeological activities, maps and community feedback displays.  See Chico through the eyes of anthropology in this educational exploration of our community.   

The museum offers free customized school and public tours to all of their exhibitions.  Call 530-898-5397 to book your free tour today!

Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology

Museum Summer Hours

June -August 2nd, 2018


11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Closed to Public August 6-19, 2018

Note: The Museum of Anthropology is completely wheelchair accessible.

Our Location

The museum is located in the Meriam Library complex, across from the main library entrance.

See our Google Map Link to the Museum


Museum of Anthropology
CSU, Chico 95929-0400

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Phone: 530-898-5397

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