Main building of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum reopens with new exhibits that vividly convey day of A-bombing

(by Kanako Noda, Staff Writer)

The main building of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, located in Naka Ward, reopened on April 25 after undergoing full-scale renovations. The refurbished exhibits now focus on approximately 300 authentic artifacts that include items which once belonged to A-bomb victims and convey more vividly what actually happened in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the day of the atomic bombing. The latest renovations are the museum’s third major renovation project since the facility first opened in 1955. For its reopening, the museum welcomed many visitors from in and out of Japan, including Hiroshima citizens.

During a ceremony held in the museum’s east building, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui made a speech and said, “The museum will now be able to play a bigger and more important role in helping the people of Hiroshima realize their wish to create a more peaceful nuclear-free world as a common value of a civil society.” He then snipped the opening tape with Takuo Takigawa, the museum director.

The newly renovated main building opened at 8:30 a.m. Children, students, and families could be seen gazing intently at the exhibits with some wiping away tears after being moved by the exhibits which convey the suffering experienced by the A-bomb victims and the deep sorrow and grief felt by parents who lost their children to the atomic bomb.

The exhibition space in the main building is grouped into four sections that include “Devastation on August 6,” a section in which visitors are able to imagine the catastrophic conditions in the city after the bombing, and “Cries of the Soul,” which makes use of photos of A-bomb victims and their personal possessions to help visitors grasp the pain and suffering experienced by the victims and their bereaved family members. In all, the main building is displaying 538 artifacts, photos, and A-bomb drawings created by survivors, including 305 authentic artifacts (six of which are replicas of original items).

Because the A-bomb survivors are growing old, and it is becoming more and more challenging to pass on their experiences of the atomic bombing, the renovated museum presents exhibits that can appeal to the senses of visitors and convey the devastation caused by the atomic bomb and the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons. As a result of these renovations to the museum, visitors will be better able to understand the “Reality of the Atomic Bombing” in the main building and learn about the “Dangers of Nuclear Weapons” as well as “Hiroshima History,” featuring the reconstruction of the war-torn city and its current peace activities, in the east building.


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. The 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. In fiscal 2018, the number of visitors to the Peace Memorial Museum totaled 1,522,453. Of this total, there were 434,838 international visitors, marking an all-time high. The number of international visitors has been increasing, year by year, over the past six years.

(Originally published on April 26, 2019)