Renovation work, spike in visitors, leads to congestion at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

by Takeshi Kikumoto, Staff Writer

With the start of the season for school trips and fall outings, conditions at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum have become more crowded than in the past. As part of the complete renovation of the museum, the East Building is now closed, reducing the size of the exhibition space. Sometimes visitors are asked to wait before they are admitted. The museum is providing information on this congestion at its website and has been advising people to avoid busy hours.

Along with other visitors, students from some 50 schools visited the museum on school trips on October 23. During the busiest time, at around 3:00 p.m., the line of people waiting to enter the museum extended about 10 meters. The exhibition space was crowded with visitors, including children and tourists from overseas, who gazed at photos and artifacts of A-bomb victims.

About 80 students from Katagiri-nishi Elementary School in Yamatokoriyama, Nara Prefecture, wrote reports outside of the museum, because lingering in the museum could inconvenience other visitors. Keiichi Otani, 58, the principal of the school, said, “This is where people from around the world come to learn about the atomic bombing and peace. So I hope efforts will be made so there is more time and space for visitors.”

According to the museum, the number of visitors totaled 1.4 million in fiscal 2013. Greater numbers come during the long holiday week in May, around the anniversary of the atomic bombing in August, and in October and November. After the East Building was closed in September, the museum increased the number of security guards from three to 11. When the stairway near the entrance is crowded, guards ask people to wait about 10 minutes. There have been 18 such times, the museum reports.

The museum expects the congestion to continue until mid-November. Noriyuki Masuda, deputy director of the museum, said, “We will try to improve the situation, including the flow of visitors, and prepare for next August, the 70th anniversary of the bombing.” After the renovation of the East Building is completed in April 2016, the Main Building will undergo renovation work before the entire museum reopens in April 2018.

(Originaly published on October 24, 2014)