A-bomb artifacts are cleaned at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

With August 6, the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing, approaching, on July 16, employees of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, located in Naka Ward, cleaned the artifacts found in display cases after the museum closed for the day. Museum staff worked to remove dust that had accumulated over the past year from such artifacts as belongings left behind by A-bomb victims, which continue to provide silent testimony to that fateful day.

After the museum closed its doors at 6 p.m., eleven workers, including employees of the curatorial division, donned white gloves and set to work in the quiet Main Building of the museum. They opened glass cases, taking out wooden display boards covered with white cloth. On these boards were such artifacts as the tattered uniforms of schoolgirls; a wristwatch whose hands stopped at 8:15 a.m., the time of the atomic bombing; and a lunchbox containing charred food. With towels, the workers carefully removed dust from the artifacts, while checking the state of deterioration.

The dust, which enters through gaps in the display cases over the year, can be seen clearly with the naked eye. As the old display boards were replaced with new ones, the workers vacuumed the cases and polished the glass. Through the night, all the artifacts held in display cases were cleaned, a total of about 420 items in the Main Building and East Building. Kenji Shiga, director of the museum, joined the work, saying, “With this effort, we can show visitors the artifacts in their best light. I hope that visitors will take time to engage with these materials.”

(Originally published on July 17, 2014)