This article from the Herald Sun raises an interesting quandary. It’s about some protestors who objected to the exhibition of the newly-restored Enola Gay. Among the activists were six people who survived the nuclear blast at Hiroshima:
Two men were arrested after a bottle of red paint, meant to symbolise blood, was thrown, denting a panel on one side of the plane â€“ parked in a new annex to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. One was charged with destruction of property, while the other faces loitering charges, police said. “This is the second time I have seen the Enola Gay,” said Hiroshima survivor Minoru Nishino, 71, who was two kilometres from the centre of the blast, and still bears the scars.
I see the merit in both points of view. For the museum, this is a historically important artifact that should be preserved for future generations. For the survivors, it’s the symbol of mass murder and the harbinger of the nuclear age.
It’s all about context. the article goes on to say that “survivors are disappointed the plane is being displayed with no reference to casualty figures at Hiroshima.” The text accompanying the plane indicates that it “found its niche on the other side of the globe”. Found its niche indeed. Clearly, the exhibit should be accompanied by some material on the destruction this plane visited on the people of Japan.
It’s noteworthy that they refurbished the thing. In my museum, I’d leave it to rust and moulder, in the hopes that people might come to associate it with a bygone era.