Museum experts to hold symposium in Hiroshima to discuss war damage and the passing down of experiences

(by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer)

Museum experts from around the world will gather in Hiroshima to discuss ways to commemorate war victims and how to share the legacy of wartime experiences. The symposium will be held at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, starting at 2:00 p.m. on September 5th. This is an off-site meeting of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) General Conference, held from September 1st to the 7th in Kyoto. It is the first ICOM conference to be held in Japan.

The meeting is sponsored by the International Committee of Memorial Museums in Remembrance of the Victims of Public Crimes (IC-MEMO), whose member museums share information about the damage and suffering caused by war and terrorism. Clifford Chanin, Executive Vice President of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York, will give the keynote speech. He will discuss the 2001 coordinated terrorist attacks upon the United States, and how the museum conveys the sorrow of the families individually affected by the attacks, and fulfills its responsibility of handing down the memory of the event to society at large.

Lectures will be given by representatives from the Gernika Peace Museum in Spain, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.. Admission to the event is free and no reservations are required. Lectures will be given in English, and simultaneous translation devices will be made available to the first 250 people. For further information, call the curatorial division of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum at 082-241-4004.

Interview with Julie Higashi, symposium coordinator and professor at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies

Hopes to share memories, have deeper discussions

The Chugoku Shimbun interviewed Julie Higashi, a professor at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, and an expert on international education. Professor Higashi, who serves as coordinator of the symposium, talked about the contents and significance of the event.

Please tell us about IC-MEMO.
IC-MEMO is a network of museums that deal with “public crimes”—wars, discriminatory policies, terrorism—situations where ordinary people are the target. It places particular importance on commemorating victims at the specific location where incidents took place, and in spreading information about their occurrence. More than 100 organizations and curators around the world are members of IC-MEMO.

What topics of discussion will be covered during the symposium?
These museums must remember the victims, convey their story to visitors, and determine how to adequately share with future generations the details of what happened. So, we’re always working on ways to share the overall issue as a collective memory, while also paying respect to the feelings of specific individuals and their relatives affected by events. This is what the Hiroshima Peace Museum does as well, so, we’ll be having deep discussions related to these concerns.

The symposium will be held in Hiroshima, an A-bombed city
The atomic bombings truly were public crimes. And people remain interested in Hiroshima, in part, because of how the city has turned this fact into one of its core strengths. The Peace Museum can make a great contribution to the world by conveying its know-how in preserving and displaying artifacts, and I hope attendees will learn about the tragedy in the A-bombed city of Hiroshima through individual memories of the atomic bombing, and consider them anew as something we can share as a community on the whole.

(Originally published on August 30, 2019)