“Bending to pressure from lawmakers and veterans, the Smithsonian Institution announced today that it would add an exhibit on World War II in the Pacific to its planned show on the atomic bombs dropped on Japan.
The Smithsonian said it was responding to complaints from veterans’ groups and military historians that the atomic bomb exhibit depicted the Americans as aggressors and the Japanese as victims because it failed to provide adequate justification for the bombing.
The exhibit, which will include the front section of the fuselage of the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, had already been revised once in response to the criticism.
But earlier this month, two dozen members of Congress wrote Robert McCormick Adams, the Smithsonian’s secretary, complaining that the exhibit was too forgiving of the Japanese. They asked that the exhibit be altered before it opens in about nine months at the National Air and Space Museum here…
Now, before entering the main exhibit, “The Last Act: the Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II,” visitors will first pass through the Pacific war show, consisting of about 50 photographs that will show events in the Pacific leading to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Smithsonian said.
The man who flew the B-29, the Enola Gay, when it dropped the bomb said the expanded exhibit “will be a plus factor.”
“There has been, at least, an admission on the part of the Smithsonian that they really lacked balance and context” in the exhibit, Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets, 79, said in a telephone interview.
But a lawmaker said the museum did not go far enough.
“I am pleased that the Air and Space Museum has finally admitted publicly that this exhibit is unbalanced and biased,” said Representative Peter I. Blute, Republican of Massachusetts. “But even with the addition of a section on the Pacific war, the exhibition still needs to undergo a massive revision or rewrite.””