Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum to reopen on April 25 with new exhibition space to convey A-bomb devastation

by Kanako Noda, Staff Writer

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, located in Naka Ward, will reopen on April 25 after undergoing a sweeping renovation. The museum will now focus on exhibiting the personal belongings of A-bomb victims and many other authentic artifacts. In addition, various measures have been taken to ensure that visitors can clearly comprehend the devastation that occurred under the mushroom cloud and the suffering experienced by the A-bomb survivors. With the survivors who have shared their experiences of August 6, 1945 now growing old, the museum will offer a new section where visitors can gain a clear sense of the inhumanity of nuclear weapons from the “silent witnesses” that were left behind after the bombing.

The exhibition space in the main building consists of four sections: the “Devastation on August 6” and “Damage from Radiation” sections, designed to convey the terrible harm caused to the city and its residents; the “Cries of the Soul” section, which uses photos of A-bomb victims and their personal possessions to help visitors grasp the pain and suffering experienced by these victims and their bereaved family members; and the section entitled “To Live,” which focuses on the post-war lives of the A-bomb survivors. These four sections will be viewed by visitors in the order described above. In all, the main building will display approximately 490 photos and A-bomb drawings made by survivors, including about 260 authentic items (six of which are replicas of those items).

This is the third large-scale renovation of the Peace Memorial Museum since it opened in 1955. In this latest renewal, the main building has been designed to convey the aftermath of the atomic bombing, while the east building illustrates “The Danger of Nuclear Weapons,” including the destructive consequences of nuclear testing, and “Hiroshima History,” which relates the reconstruction of the war-torn city and its current peace activities. In August 2010, an advisory committee of experts was formed and began discussing the new exhibition space. The renovation of the east building was completed first and was then reopened in April 2017.

In fiscal 2017, the number of visitors to the Peace Memorial Museum was 1,680,923, the second largest figure since the museum first opened. As a result of the visit to the museum by former U.S. President Barack Obama in May 2016, and the establishment of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in July 2017, people around the world are showing more awareness and interest in issues related to the atomic bombings and this continues to fuel high numbers of visitors to the museum. The number of international visitors in fiscal 2017 totaled 392,667, hitting a new high that has been rising for five straight years. As of the end of March 2018, the average age of those holding an Atomic Bomb Survivor’s Certificate reached 82.06.

The Peace Memorial Museum will close at 2 p.m. on April 24 to prepare for the opening of the main building on the following day.


Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
The museum’s main building opened in 1955 and the east building opened in 1994. In March 2014, the City of Hiroshima began full-scale renovations of the main building, an important national cultural property, in order to make it earthquake resistant and have the museum as a whole be able to convey the devastation caused by the atomic bombing and the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons in a way that would be easier to grasp. The east building was closed in September of that year to renovate the exhibition space and subsequently reopened in April 2017. At the same time, the main building was closed for interior renovations and earthquake resistance work. This work to fortify the main building against earthquakes is scheduled to be completed by the end of fiscal 2019. The entire project is expected to cost 7 billion 35 million yen.

(Originally published on March 20, 2019)