ALBUQUERQUE, NM – The new National Museum of Nuclear Science & History will open its doors to the world on April 4, 2009. This “new” museum has served as a national resource through its collections and programming for 40 years. Formerly the National Atomic Museum, which opened in 1969 and was chartered by Congress in 1991, the new Museum will continue to serve as a repository and steward of nuclear-related historical items and remain a Smithsonian affiliate.
The Museum’s current location at 1905 Mountain Rd. NW near “Old Town” will close its doors at the end of the day on February 7, 2009. That is also the day of one of the Museum’s signature events: Zoom – A Science and Engineering Event. Each year at Zoom, hundreds of visitors of all ages enjoy the hands-on activities provided by volunteer engineers and other professionals.
The new location at 601 Eubank Bvld. SE in Albuquerque, New Mexico, includes a newly constructed 30,000-square-foot building and 12 acres of exterior space. For the first time in more than seven years, the public will be able to view the historic aircraft, nuclear missiles, and other large artifacts belonging to the Museum, as those items are being moved from their location on Kirtland Air Force Base to the new site.
The interior space will continue to present nuclear history, power, medicine, weapons, uranium mining, energy, and radiation in its major exhibits. Also included is Little Albert’s Lab, complete with an animatronic Little Albert, where children of all ages can learn the fundamentals of Albert Einstein’s famous formula of E=mc².
The museum started out in 1969 as the Sandia Base Weapons Museum at its location on Kirtland Air Force Base. After September 11, 2001, the Museum was forced to seek an alternative site that would allow visitors from other countries to continue to visit the Museum. Space was then rented in Albuquerque’s “Old Town,” a tourist destination.
The Museum’s artifacts range from a minute sample of ekanite, an uncommon gemstone with a high Thorium content, to a B52-B bomber airplane, an item regulated in the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty to this day. The Museum’s best-known artifacts are casings used for the Fat Man and Little Boy atomic bombs of World War II.
The Museum has a thriving education effort, designed for life-long learning. The educational aspect of the museum's programs include docent led school tour, docent visits to classrooms, summer camps, visits to remote schools by the “Up n Atom Mobile,” and lectures for the public.