Museum event teaches art of paper crane folding

Cranes to number a thousand or more for Empty Chair Memorial dedication
Origami Crane

An ancient legend promises that if one folds 1,000 paper cranes, he or she will be granted a wish; other tales promise eternal good luck, prosperity or happiness. It is with this in mind that members of the Empty Chair committee plan to have a thousand paper cranes at the Empty Chair Memorial dedication.


Jackie Triplette and other Empty Chair Project committee members will be hosting a paper crane folding event from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, April 19, at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. There will be instruction available for making the origami birds, which will play a role in the Empty Chair dedication this summer.

“We’ve probably, in town here, got over 500 made. We’ve had a couple folding parties at private homes,” Triplette said. “This is going to be a public one. We want to get more people involved.”

Anyone is welcome to attend the event to fold cranes. There will be a couple women who can teach, and there will be examples.

The group will likely host at least one more public event, and they hope to host an event in the schools.

“We’ll probably have over a thousand (cranes),” Triplette said.

Triplette is one of many who grew up in Juneau — she and her now-husband went to prom dinner at the City Cafe, owned by the Tanaka family — and is committed to having a memorial built in honor of Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps during World War II.

Another organizer of the Empty Chair Project, Margie Alstead Shackelford, said in July 2013 that the 1,000 paper cranes for the dedication ceremony “are symbols of respect for departed ancestors, as well as symbols of peace. One thousand is considered a fortuitous number.”

The dedication ceremony will be followed by a public reception. Also accompanying the memorial dedication will be a Juneau-Douglas City Museum exhibit on internment during WWII, including photos and artifacts, as well as art by Fumi Matsumoto, and the presentation of a documentary by Greg Chaney about the removal of Japanese Americans from Juneau, to be shown in the museum’s media room. The events surrounding the dedication were originally scheduled for May, but will occur later in the summer due to museum renovations. The museum exhibit will open on June 6, with the documentary showing on July 11 and the memorial dedication taking place at 2 p.m. on July 12 at the Capital School Park.

For more on the Empty Chair Project, visit

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