Former Buddhist Temple Constructed in 1925 Will Undergo Major Refurbishment, Jan 18, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA. USA) -- The Japanese American National Museum announced that the windows in its Historic Building, the former Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, will be refurbished, thanks to a grant from the S. Mark Taper Foundation.

The S. Mark Taper Foundation, founded in 1989 with the mission to support causes and institutions that improve the quality of life, provided $150,000 to restore the windows that were installed in 1925 when the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple was first constructed. The building, mostly composed of brick and mortar, was first closed in 1969 when Nishi moved to its current location at First Street and Vignes.

The City of Los Angeles eventually took over the older building in 1973, but it fell into disuse. When the National Museum was incorporated in 1985, the City offered to lease the building to the Museum for $1 a year. However, major upgrades were required before it was reopened to the public in May of 1992.

"We are very grateful to the S. Mark Taper Foundation for this grant which allows the Japanese American National Museum to maintain our Historic Building," said Akemi Kikumura Yano, President and CEO of the National Museum. "When the Museum first opened in 1992, we acknowledged that this former Buddhist temple building was the largest artifact in our collection. So much history has taken place in this structure: weddings; funerals; community gatherings. For many Japanese Americans, this was the last place they assembled before being forced away from their homes during World War II, and for others, it was first place they returned to after the war. Taking care of this building is important, and thanks to the S. Mark Taper Foundation, we will be able to ensure the windows are in the best shape since 1925."

With the grant from the Taper Foundation, the National Museum is in the process of obtaining matching funds that will be used solely for the restoration. The windows will have to be removed, so they can be repaired and restored. Scaffolding will be installed during the renovation. National Museum staff has already moved out of the offices into the adjacent Pavilion in preparation for the restoration.