US Museum Refuses Hiroshima Exhibit over Abolishing Nuclear Weapons Theme

By Russell Contreras and Mari Yamaguchi, Mintpress,
04 April 2018. 
A museum in Los Alamos, New Mexico (AP) — a once-secret
New Mexico city that developed the atomic bomb — has put an exhibit from Japan
on hold because of its theme of abolishing nuclear weapons.

The Los Alamos Historical Museum
confirmed Monday that it will not host a traveling exhibit organized by the
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum until all
parties can work out their differences over the theme.
The exhibit, which features articles
of clothing, exposed plates, and other personal items from victims, aims to
draw attention to the horrors of the bombs that destroyed both cities.
Heather McClenahan, executive
director of the Los Alamos Historical Museum, said the museum’s board of
directors felt uncomfortable about the exhibit’s call to abolish nuclear bombs.
The New Mexico city is still home to the Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of
the U.S.’s premier nuclear weapons research centers.
The exhibit dispute comes as the Los
Alamos National Lab competes with the U.S. Energy Department’s Savannah River
Site in South Carolina to continue production of plutonium pits. Those are
critical cores which trigger nuclear warheads.
No new pits have been made since
2011. The Energy Department wants to ramp up production to 80 pits a year by
“The Los Alamos Historical Society
will continue its dialogue with the museums in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in hopes
that we can overcome cultural and linguistic differences and host exhibits that
are respectful to all of our communities’ concerns and stories,” McClenahan
said. “In other words, we hope this is not the end but the beginning of delving
together into our history and the questions it raises.”
She said the historical society will
not send an exhibit about Los Alamos scientists to Hiroshima and Nagasaki
without significant dialogue and input from their museums.
“We would ask that the same respect
be afforded to our community,” McClenahan said.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
official Tomonori Nitta told The Associated Press that officials were informed
by the Los Alamos museum in mid-February that its board meeting turned down a
current plan, failing to meet a deadline for funding needed to hold an exhibit
in 2019.
Nitta said it is mainly up to the Los
Alamos side to figure out a resolution and he hoped the exhibit was still
“If 2019 doesn’t work, we still hope
to achieve an exhibit at a later occasion,” Nitta said. “We will continue to
cooperate so that we can clear the hurdles and hold an exhibit.”
Takatoshi Hayama, an official at the
Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, said no details have been decided and that
officials are still hoping to put on an exhibit.
“We only wish people from around the
world to see our exhibit and learn the reality of atomic bombings and their
consequences,” he told the AP from Nagasaki.
The traveling atomic bombing exhibit
is taking place in Budapest, Hungary, through end of August, before moving to
France and Belgium later this year. The atomic bombing exhibits have been held
in 12 other cities in the U.S.
In the 1940s, scientists working in
the then-secret city of Los Alamos developed the atomic bomb as part of the
World War II-era Manhattan Project. The secret program provided enriched
uranium for the atomic bomb. Facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Hanford,
Washington were also involved in the project.
The two atomic bombs were later
dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More than 210,000
people in both Japanese cities were killed.
Top Photo | An unidentified man
stands next to a tiled fireplace where a house once stood in Hiroshima, Japan,
on Sept. 7, 1945. The vast ruin is a result of “Little Boy,” the uranium atomic
bomb detonated on Aug. 6 by the U.S.