City to launch excavation at Peace Memorial Museum site this month; survey to examine remains related to A-bombing

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

The City of Hiroshima has announced that it will launch a large-scale excavation on the site of the Peace Memorial Museum’s main building in Peace Memorial Park in Naka Ward at the end of this month. The first excavation of the site since the museum opened in 1955 is to be conducted prior to a seismic retrofit of the facility. The excavation will examine and make a record of remains related to the atomic bombing. A preliminary excavation has already identified pre-war remains that are likely to be part of the Nakajima neighborhood that was destroyed in the A-bombing.

Peace Memorial Park has been designated a place of scenic beauty, and permission from the Cultural Affairs Agency was required to conduct the excavation. Permission was granted on October 16.

The survey will examine a total of 2,200 square meters including the entire area directly under the museum’s main building, which is set on stilt-like pillars, and its periphery. The paving stones will be pulled up, the concrete and crushed rock underneath will be removed, and the earth will be dug up by a contractor down to a depth of about 1.5 meters. The Hiroshima City Culture Foundation will then conduct a survey from mid-November through the end of next March. The project has been budgeted at 98 million yen.

Before the atomic bombing, the site of the museum’s main building was lined with houses and shops. A total of three preliminary excavations were carried out in March of last year and May of this year. According to the city, a layer of soil from the time of the A-bombing as well as curbstones, tiles damaged by the A-bombing and ceramic bottles were found. The results of the survey will be compiled in a report, and any materials related to the A-bombing that are found will be preserved.

The city has closed the exhibition space in the museum’s east wing for renovations. When the work on this project is completed in the spring of 2016, the main building will be closed and work will begin on the seismic retrofit during which the underground portion of the foundation will be fitted with seismic isolation rubber. A spokesperson for the city’s Peace Promotion Division said, “This work is essential in order to pass the museum on to the next generation, and some of the soil will have to be removed. Before that, we want to make an accurate record of what is found.” The museum is scheduled to reopen in the spring of 2018 with completely renovated displays.

(Originally published on October 17, 2015)