The National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, NV is a national science, history, and educational institution that tells the story of America’s nuclear weapons testing program at the Nevada Test Site. The museum uses lessons of the past and present to better understand the extent and effect of nuclear testing on worldwide nuclear deterrence and geo-political history. It provides collection-based exhibits and learning activities for greater public understanding and appreciation of the world in which we live. It’s collections and activities are inseparably linked to serve a diverse public of varied ages, backgrounds, and knowledge.
The National Atomic Testing Museum is operated and maintained by it’s parent organization, The Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation (NTSHF), an IRS 501 (c) (3) charitable, non-profit organization chartered in Nevada. The Museum is an Affiliate Partner of the Smithsonian Institution. The Museum is not supported by the U.S. Government, Smithsonian Institution, or Nevada State funding.
“The museum opened in February 2005 because many of the former Nevada Test Site workers wanted the remarkable story of testing nuclear weapons in the desert to be preserved for future generations of Americans to understand why they did it,” explains Allan Palmer, Executive Director & CEO of the National Atomic Testing Museum. “Thus, they formed the Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation, the parent organization of the museum, to build the museum.”
Allan Palmer says his favorite exhibit in the museum thus far is the Ground Zero Theater.
“Visitors can sit through a simulated above ground nuclear test just like it would have been done in 1957,” he said. “It is an immersive 4D experience. Another great exhibit is Control Point which replicates the place at the test site where the controllers actually set off the weapons explosions.”
Those who come to visit this museum can expect to see actual nuclear weapons training shapes used by armament crews for loading practice on nuclear alert fighters and bombers. Allan Palmer explains these training shapes are the real weapon without the nuclear material.
“There is also a great collection of nuclear era memorabilia from the 50s, 60s and 70s as well as interactive exhibits on radiation and geiger counters,” he said.
The team at the National Atomic Testing Museum are currently finishing work on the temporary Area 51: Myth or Reality exhibit to upgrade and improve it.
“We will hold a Grand Reopening on May 17, 2014 to celebrate the extension of this popular exhibit at the museum for another 2 years,” Allan Palmer says.
Why should #VegasTech community members check out the museum? Allan Palmer and his team say this museum is a treasure chest for techies and geeks who love technology and history.
“It is also a place where people can learn how the weapons testing during the Cold War helped build Las Vegas into the fascinating and exciting city that it is today,” he continues. “Billions of federal dollars flowing into the area for the Test Site brought business, people, education and technology to the desert valley for the first time, and led to an enriched and vibrant population growth.”