Photo/IllutrationA zone in the renewed main building of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum features a floor display of the clothing of A-bomb victims, shown to media before the official opening, in Hiroshima’s Naka Ward on March 8. (Koichi Ueda)

  • Photo/Illustraion

HIROSHIMA--Words can never tell the entire story of the August 1945 day that forever changed this western city.

This is one of the guiding principles of the overhauled Hiroshima peace museum, which focuses on the visual and the tactile in conveying the stark horror of the atomic bombing.

After four and a half years of renewal work, the facility's main building is set to open April 25, with an emphasis on physical items to give visitors a sense of the actual hardships of the atomic bombing victims.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum houses 20,000 or so items, including the belongings of those who died in the disaster, in its main and east buildings, which opened in 1955 and 1994, respectively.

The renewed main building comprises two zones. The first zone, themed on Aug. 6, the day of the 1945 bombing, features structures such as chimneys and iron support rods charred and warped by the blast, and physical items such as clothing worn by students. Many pieces are spread out on the floor.

The second zone focuses on victims of the disaster. Items on display include a tricycle, diaries and letters, as well as portraits of victims and written accounts by their bereaved family members.

Renewal work on the east building was completed in April 2017.

Panel descriptions for the physical items were kept relatively short, with the aim of giving visitors a more visual and physical encounter with the experiences of victims and their loved ones.

A controversial display of three life-size figures with their skin melting in the immediate aftermath of the bombing has been removed.

Visitors entering the east building first encounter a diorama onto which images are projected to reproduce Hiroshima as it looked prior to and in the immediate aftermath of the bombing. After passing through the main building, visitors then return to the east facility where they can learn about the history of the development of nuclear weapons.

The U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was passed on July 7, 2017, is also introduced, showing the names and number (122) of countries that ratified the accord.

A total of 1,522,453 people visited the museum in fiscal 2018, down 9.4 percent compared with the previous year, owing to torrential rains that devastated the area in summer.

However, the figure was still the sixth-highest on record.

A total of 434,838 people from overseas visited the facility in fiscal 2018, a record for the sixth straight year.

According to data compiled by the health ministry, 154,859 people were designated as atomic bombing victims by the government as of March 2018. Their average age was 82.

With that generation dying out, Hiroshima city officials had long discussed how to present material at the museum to convey the reality of the bombing more clearly.

Retrofitting of the main building to enhance its resistance to earthquakes will continue until late October.