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The National Atomic Museum

Since its opening in 1969, the objective of the National Atomic museum has been to provide a readily accessible repository of educational materials, and information on the Atomic Age. In addition, the museum's goal is to preserve, interpret, and exhibit to the public memorabilia of this Age. In late 1991 the museum was chartered by Congress as the United States' only official Atomic museum.

Prominently featured in the museum's high bay is the story of the Manhattan Engineer District, the unprecedented 2.2 billion dollar scientific-engineering project that was centered in New Mexico during World War II. The Manhattan Project as it was more commonly called, developed, built, and tested the world's first Atomic bomb in New Mexico. This display also includes casings similar to the only Atomic bombs ever used in warfare. Dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, these two bombs helped bring World War II to an end in mid-August 1945. The story of the Manhattan Project's three secret cities, Hanford, Washington, Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Oak
Ridge, Tennessee, is also presented in this area.

A portion of the museum, the low bay, is devoted to exhibits on the research, development, and use of various forms of nuclear energy. Historical and other traveling exhibits are also displayed in this area. Also found in the low bay is the museum's store, which is operated by the museum's foundation.

Adjacent to the low bay is the theater. The featured film is David Wolpers classic 1963 production, Ten Seconds That Shook The World. This excellent film is a 53-minute documentary on the Manhattan Project.  Other films relating to the history of the Atomic Age are available for viewing and checkout from the library.

Next to the theater is the library/Department of Energy public reading room, containing government documents that are available to the public for in-library research. The library also has many nuclear related books available for reference and checkout.

Located around the outside of the museum are a number of large exhibits. These include the Boeing B-52B jet bomber that dropped the United States' last air burst H-bomb in 1962, and a 280-mm (11 inches) Atomic cannon, once America's most powerful field artillery. Also found in this area is a Navy TA-7C (a modified A-7B) Corsair II fighter-bomber, a veteran of the Vietnam War.  Many other nuclear weapons systems, rockets, and missiles are found in this area.

In front of the museum are a pair of Navy Terrier missiles. The Terrier was the Navy's first operational surface to air missile. To the south of the museum, next to the visitors parking lot, is a Republic F-105D Thunderchief fighter-bomber. Further south is a World War II Boeing B-29 Superfortress. This plane is similar to the B-29's, Enola Gay and Bockscar that dropped the Atomic bombs on Japan.

The National Atomic Museum, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except for New Years Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The museum is located at 20358 Wyoming Blvd. SE, on Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Guided tours for groups are available by calling (505) 845-4636 in advance.  Admission and tours are free, and cameras are always welcome!

RELATED LINKS
Learn About Trinity - The First Atomic Test
The First Atomic Test
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Schmidt-McDonald Ranch House
The Code Name Trinity
Intense Secrecy
The Trinity Test
The Awesome Blast
Notes & Bibliography
RECOMMENDED  LITERATURE

100 Suns - By Michael Light - Between July 1945 and November 1962 the United States is known to have conducted 216 atmospheric and underwater nuclear tests. After the Limited Test Ban Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1963, nuclear testing went underground. It became literally invisible—but more frequent: the United States conducted a further 723 underground tests, the last in 1992. 100 Suns documents the era of visible nuclear testing, the atmospheric era, with 100 photographs drawn by Michael Light from the archives at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the U.S. National Archives in Maryland. It includes previously classified material from the clandestine Lookout Mountain Air Force Station based in Hollywood, whose film directors, cameramen and still photographers were sworn to secrecy.

The title, 100 Suns, refers to the response by J.Robert Oppenheimer to the world’s first nuclear explosion in New Mexico when he quoted a passage from the Bhagavad Gita, the classic Vedic text: “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst forth at once in the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One... I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” This was Oppenheimer’s attempt to describe the otherwise indescribable. 100 Suns likewise confronts the indescribable by presenting without embellishment the stark evidence of the tests at the moment of detonation. Since the tests were conducted either in Nevada or the Pacific the book is simply divided between the desert and the ocean. Each photograph is presented with the name of the test, its explosive yield in kilotons or megatons, the date and the location. The enormity of the events recorded is contrasted with the understated neutrality of bare data.

Interspersed within the sequence of explosions are pictures of the awestruck witnesses. The evidence of these photographs is terrifying in its implication while at same time profoundly disconcerting as a spectacle. The visual grandeur of such imagery is balanced by the chilling facts provided at the end of the book in the detailed captions, a chronology of the development of nuclear weaponry and an extensive bibliography. A dramatic sequel to Michael Light’s Full Moon, 100 Suns forms an unprecedented historical document.

 
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