George Takei helps museum acquire 'priceless' collection of WWII internment camp artifacts

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George Takei helps museum acquire 'priceless' collection of WWII internment camp artifacts
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 17: George Takei attends the press conference for The Japanese American National Museum's exhibition 'Instructions To All Persons: Reflections On Executive Order 9066' at Japanese American National Museum on February 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 20: Actor George Takei attends 'Star Trek: The Exhibition' at The Franklin Institute Science Museum on August 20, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images)
The space shuttle orbiter OV-101, aka 'Enterprise', is unveiled at the NASA/Rockwell International Space Division assembly plant at Palmdale, California, in the presence of the cast of hit tv show 'Star Trek', 17th September 1976. From left to right, NASA administrator Dr. James C. Fletcher, actors DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, series creator Gene Roddenberry and actor Walter Koenig. (Photo by Space Frontiers/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 11: George Takei attends the 3rd Annual Sports Humanitarian Of The Year Awards at The Novo by Microsoft on July 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 17: George Takei attends the press conference for The Japanese American National Museum's exhibition 'Instructions To All Persons: Reflections On Executive Order 9066' at Japanese American National Museum on February 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 06: Presenter George Takei speaks onstage at AARP's 16th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 6, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 06: Actor George Takei attends AARP's 16th annual Movies For Grownups Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 6, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
CULVER CITY, CA - DECEMBER 02: Actors George Takei (L) and Masi Oka introduce The Fray onstage during the VH1 Big in '06 Awards held at Sony Studios on December 2, 2006 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - APRIL 27: Actors John Cho (L) and George Takei, each who has portrayed Hikaru Sulu in 'Star Trek,' attend the 43rd Anniversary Visionary Awards at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City hotel on April 27, 2009 in Universal City, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Actor George Takei (2nd L) (the 'Sulu' charactor on 'Star Trek') and partner Brad Altman (L) after they were married at the Japanese American National Museum on September 14, 2008 in Los Angeles. Fellow 'Star Trek' actors Walter Koenig (2nd R) and Nichelle Nichols (R) who participated in the ceremony follow. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 29: The James Doohan Farewell Star Trek Convention and Tribute at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood, United States on August 29, 2004 - Walter Koenig and George Takei. (Photo by Mike FANOUS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 4: George Takei as Commander Hikaru Sul in the movie, 'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.' Release date, June 4, 1982. Image is a screen grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
Canadian actor William Shatner, AMerican George Takei, Nichelle Nichols and Robert Hooks on the set of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, directed by Leonard Nimoy. (Photo by Paramount Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 4: From left: George Takei as Commander Hikaru Sul and William Shatner as Admiral James T. Kirk in the movie, 'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.' Release date, June 4, 1982. Image is a screen grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
DECEMBER 7: Actors George Takei, James Doohan, Grace Lee Whitney, Nichelle Nichols, Stephen Collins, DeForest Kelley, Majel Barrett, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Persis Khambatta, Walter Koenig pose for a portrait during the filming of the movie 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' which was released December 27, 1979 in the United States. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 4: From left: Nichelle Nichols as Commander Uhura, DeForest Kelley as Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, George Takei as Commander Hikaru Sulu in the movie, 'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.' Release date, June 4, 1982. Image is a screen grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 3: From left: James Doohan as Chief Engineer Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott, DeForest Kelley as Dr. Leonard H. McCoy and George Takei as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu on the Star Trek: The Original Series episode, 'Whom Gods Destroy.' Originally aired January 3, 1969. Image is a screen grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
Actors George Takei, Stephen Collins, Majel Barrett, Persis Khambatta, Grace Lee Whitney, William Shatner, James Doohan, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Walter Koenig and Michelle Nichols on the set of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, directed by Robert Wise. (Photo by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
American actor George Takei appears as Sulu in a scene from 'The Man Trap,' the premiere episode of 'Star Trek,' which aired on September 8, 1966. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 22: Sally Kellerman as Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, James Doohan as Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott, Paul Fix as Dr. Mark Piper and George Takei as Lt. Sulu in the STAR TREK episode, 'Where No Man Has Gone Before.' Season 1, Episode 3. Original air date, September 22, 1966. Image is a frame grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
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George Takei saves the day!

The Rago Arts and Auction Center was planning a sale of a collection of paintings, photographs, and artifacts created and owned by people who had been imprisoned in internment camps for people of Japanese descent during World War II.

But thanks to an intervention from 'Star Trek' star and social justice activist George Takei, the collection will be acquired by the Japanese American National Museum, reports the Los Angeles Times.

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Roughly 450 works were set to be auctioned off. Items included photographs taken in the camps, watercolor and oil paintings and carved sculptures created by people who were incarcerated, and furniture and other belongings that survived internment.

"Many of the photos picture peoples' grandparents and parents, and there's a strong emotional tie there," Takei told the LA Times. "To put that up on the auction block to the highest bidder, where it would just disappear into someone's collection, was insensitive."

So Takei -- who is a board member of the Japanese American National Museum, which is located in Los Angeles -- personally spoke with David Rago, a founding partner of Rago Arts.

"The most appropriate and obvious place for the collection was the Japanese American National Museum," Takei said. "I talked to David Rago after the uproar, and he was very thoughtful and receptive."

Ultimately, the auction was canceled, and the entire collection was acquired by the museum.

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Greg Kimura, the president and chief executive of the Japanese American National Museum, said Takei had been instrumental in securing the collection for them.

"The works are priceless," Kimura told the LA Times. "To us, they're not just pieces of art; they are deeply important representations of the longing and hope of our families."

"This collection wouldn't be coming to (our museum) if it weren't for the intervention and passion of George Takei," he continued. "He stepped in to ask Rago that the auction be canceled, and, I mean, who can say no to George?"

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Takei was honored at the Japanese American National Museum's gala this past weekend:

A brief background on Takei's personal history with the internment camps: After Pearl Harbor was bombed, America collectively panicked that anyone in the country of Japanese descent could be a potential spy or operative for Imperial Japan. Nearly everyone with Japanese DNA, including people who were second- and third-generation citizens of the United States, was rounded up and forced to live in the camps. More than 100,000 people were sent to live in internment camps scattered around the country during World War II.

In 1942, Takei -- then 5 years old -- and his family were sentenced to an internment camp made of converted horse stables at Santa Anita Park in Los Angeles.

"We had nothing to do with the war. We simply happened to look like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor," Takei said in an interview with Democracy Now! "But without charges, without trial, without due process ... we were summarily rounded up, all Japanese Americans on the West Coast ... and sent off to 10 barb wire internment camps."

After Santa Anita, his family was shipped to an internment camp in Arkansas, where they remained until the war ended. Just 20 years later, Takei would make history with his role as Sulu on the original TV series of Star Trek.

Angelina Jolie's Unbroken was also about World War II -- watch her explain how the compelling true story became her passion project:

The Story Behind Angelina Jolie's Passion Project 'Unbroken'
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