Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum opens storage rooms to media, where 21,000 “witnesses” to A-bombing are preserved

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum holds a collection of some 21,000 items that were once the belongings of A-bomb victims and have since been donated by survivors and family members of the dead. About 420 of these items are on permanent display. Fifty times as many items, however, are held in storage. Having “experienced” the atomic bombing, they now rest in the museum’s basement, waiting to convey the horror of an atomic blast to future generations.

Two of the four storage rooms in the basement of the East Building of the museum were opened to the media on June 9. Both rooms have a loft, and one room has a total floor area of 394 square meters, while the other measures 170 square meters. The storage rooms feel cool, with the temperature controlled between 20 and 22 degrees Celsius and the humidity between 50 and 52 percent.

The materials are classified into such categories as clothing, household articles, and swords. To prevent deterioration, each item of clothing is wrapped in paper and kept in chests of drawers made of paulownia wood, and documents are held in acid-free paper envelopes.

Noriyuki Masuda, deputy director of the museum, said, “These materials represent the sentiments of donors, so they should be kept in an appropriate condition.” But only four artifacts have been donated so far this fiscal year, and the museum is calling on the public to donate more items.

A sweeping renovation of the museum began in March, with work undertaken in the East Building. Large-scale efforts will start in September, with the closing of the permanent exhibition. After work in the East Building is completed in the spring of 2016, the Main Building will close for renovations. The museum will fully reopen in the spring of 2018.

(Originally published on June 10, 2014)