Introduction | Creating the Museum | Museum Photos | Exhibits Acknowledgments

-"Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech,
and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity."
- Buddhist Saying and Proverb

Creating the International Tsunami Museum
by David N. Sattler, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology, Western Washington University
On December 26, 2004, a massive 9.1 earthquake off the coast of Indonesia created a devastating tsunami that struck 12 countries around the Indian Ocean. Over 250,000 persons lost their lives and over 2.3 million became homeless in a matter of minutes.

In the months following the tsunami, my disaster research team interviewed hundreds of survivors in Thailand. Many survivors told us that they were fearful about future tsunami threats. They said they did not have a good understanding about the warning signs of a tsunami, how to evacuate, or how tsunamis form. We also were told that they did not realize how millions of people around the world pulled together to help those affected by the tsunami.

Something special happened when we informed them about these topics. Their fears diminished, and they thanked us for sharing this information. Hearing about the worldwide response made them feel proud and thankful. Most said they had not heard the information we shared with them. Not having the information is a result, in part, of their losing homes and possessions (e.g., television and radio) due to the tsunami and not having insurance to recover. I wondered how we might apply these findings in order to inform large numbers of people in Thailand about these topics.

In March 2006, I came up with an idea to build an educational museum in an area especially hard hit by the tsunami. A museum could help people understand the event that changed so many lives by showing how the Indian Ocean tsunami formed, showing how the tsunami affected the environment, and how foundations, organizations, businesses, and individuals around the world rallied to help. Exhibits in the museum also could discuss the warning signs of a tsunami and how to evacuate, and the new tsunami warning system being built in the Indian Ocean. And, the museum could show hope, resilience, and the human spirit, and help people move forward with their lives.

Continue to Creating the Museum →


Photos by David N. Sattler

"Tsunami Researchers Help Rebuild a Community"

Click here to read an article about the International Tsunami Museum project in the Observer, published by the Association for Psychological Science

Text and photographs copyright 2007-2014 by David N. Sattler.