On 6th August 1945, the American Air Force dropped the world’s first nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, directly killing an estimated 80,000 people. By the end of the year, injury and radiation brought total casualties to 90,000-140,000. Approximately 69% of the city’s buildings were completely destroyed, and 6.6% severely damaged.
“The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum aims to commemorate this tragedy by collecting and displaying belongings left by the victims, photos, and other materials that convey the horror of that event, supplemented by exhibits that describe Hiroshima before and after the bombing and others that present the current status of the nuclear age. Each of the items displayed embodies the grief, anger, or pain of real people. Having now recovered from that A-bomb calamity, Hiroshima’s deepest wish is the elimination of all nuclear weapons and the realisation of a genuinely peaceful international community.”
The above quote is taken from the introduction to the museum’s leaflet-cum-guidebook. As one walks through the museum and views the items detailed therein, one will notice that the museum focuses on 5 or 6 different themes, which I will deal with in 6 different sections. These are Hiroshima before the bomb, the bomb itself, including its development and specifics, as well as the reasons for its use, Hiroshima in ruins, the effects of the bomb on its victims, the ‘Nuclear Age’, and the ‘Path to Peace’.
Established in 1955, and enlarged with the addition of the East Building in 1991, the museum is one of the most popular destinations for school field trips from all over Japan, as well as from other countries. Koichiro Maeda, director since 1999, was appointed by the City Council of Hiroshima, which operates the museum.