A Clearly Nuclear Museum

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There’s an easy-to-overlook, 5 Compass Albuquerque attraction whose long name and subject might turn off some potential visitors.   The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History is for everybody.  It began as the Sandia Atomic Museum in 1969 and changed its name to the National Atomic Museum 4 years later. In 1991 the United States Congress named it the official repository of historical items related to the nuclear age.   Now a Smithsonian affiliate and the only national museum in New Mexico, it’s at 601 Eubank Boulevard in southeast Albuquerque.

Just inside its front entrance, a periodic table is embedded in the floor to remind visitors that this is a serious place of learning.  A docent greeted us there and told us what we would find beyond it.  Nuclear-related technological info, including a display about how nuclear waste is transported, was to our left. Science-based stuff including nuclear medicine was straight ahead. History, including the Manhattan Project of course, was to our right.  All of the 18 themed areas were interesting.  I especially liked #4, “Secrets, Lies & Atomic Spies” and hearing the story of the Packard limo that was used to transport scientists working on the Manhattan Project.  Found in a Gallup junkyard, it was lovingly restored and put on display for the museum’s 2009 grand opening.

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Often while there, volunteers who really knew their subject would stop and ask me if they could explain something.  Often, there was something that needed explaining, like The Gadget model.  A  nuclear implosion device, it looked like a menacing soccer ball with a confusion of wires barely containing its power.

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Through a back door was Heritage Park, a bonus experience in the form of a collection of historic planes, like a B-29 Superfortress. Boeing built 3,970 of these during World War II and they returned for combat in the Korean War. There are usually fighter jets and missiles on display too.  Mechanics and restorers stopped what they were doing to tell us about their subjects and their jobs.

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It’s not all science.  I now want to play Uranium Rush, find the movie The House on 92nd Street, and see the newly renovated exhibit being set up “Uranium:  Enriching Your Future”.  On my way out of the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, I wrote in my notebook. “A fantastic museum that tells the entire story of the nuclear age in all its facets”.

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Hank

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About roadsrus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road is...today's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roadsrus

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