Origami paper folding is an old art, used in Japanese culture for ceremony, recreation and education. The practice requires care, precision and attention to detailed directions; it teaches and rewards persistence. The folded paper result can be beautiful and is ephemeral.

Teachers and parents teach origami to very young children, and also use origami to help children learn. For example, an ephemeral paper wristwatch might be inked with the time for dinner to teach a young child to match the watch time with the time on an analog clock.

Origami would have been one of the many arts practiced in the internment camps. With materials in short supply, any found paper could have been used: thin foil gum and candy wrappers fold especially well, responding with sharp creases. Origami would have been a welcome distraction for interned Japanese Americans of all ages.

After World War II, origami cranes became widely recognized as a symbol of peace and reconciliation through the story of Sadako Sasaki, the Hiroshima victim whose story is told in Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr (Uris Library)

Items in this exhibition case: