Masaru Kumagai examines fossils recovered from the Rikuzentakata City Museum, Iwate Prefecture Image credit The Mainichi Daily News
The Mainichi Daily News reports today that –
When the Iwate Prefecture city of Rikuzentakata was hit by a deadly quake on March 11, 2011, hundreds of thousands of items at local museums were engulfed by the tsunami waves. Now, however, the efforts of the city’s only surviving curator have sparked hope that many items will be restored and put back on display. Masaru Kumagai, a 45-year-old curator at the Sea and Shell Museum, has teamed up with people including retired museum workers to help restore the museums’ damaged specimens. “I won’t let the riches of my hometown be lost,” Kumagai says.

Over 440,000 items from the city museum and other locations were swallowed by the tsunami waves. Following the magnitude-9.0 earthquake in March 2011, Kumagai fled from his workplace in the city to the roof of the city hall, located about two kilometers away. However, most of the city’s employees who were knowledgeable about the museum’s cultural properties, including the head of the city museum, died in the tsunami.

Work to collect the scattered articles began in April. Researchers and museum workers from around the country, as well as Self-Defense Forces helped to uncover them. By mid-June they had recovered around 310,000 items. However, Kumagai says that what is more important is how many can be restored to good condition. The quality of articles soiled by seawater and mud degrades over time, so speed is needed for the restoration work. Workers must be thorough, sterilizing, drying, and cataloging the items.

Full article here.