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Atomic Histories

New Mexico History Museum & Santa Fe Opera presentations recognize Atomic Histories

On July 16, 1945, the Atomic Age was launched with the detonation of the first atomic bomb at New Mexico’s Trinity Site. During 2018 and 2019, the New Mexico History Museum and the Santa Fe Opera will both feature presentations exploring New Mexico’s Atomic Histories.

The museum’s Atomic Histories exhibition opens June 3 and runs through May 2019. The exhibition will highlight a selection of works from Meridel Rubenstein’s mixed media installation A Critical Mass comprised of glass, photography, video, and steel. Rubenstein was commissioned to create A Critical Mass for the first SITE Santa Fe Biennial, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first atomic test in New Mexico.

“To enhance understanding of the legacy of the Manhattan Project, the New Mexico History Museum has developed this interpretive exploration of our state’s atomic history,” said Andrew Wulf, executive director of the New Mexico History Museum.

Through extensive collaboration with the Los Alamos History Museum, the Atomic Heritage Foundation, the Santa Fe Opera, Los Alamos’ Bradbury Science Museum and the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, and Grants’ New Mexico Mining Museum, the History Museum will exhibit a wide variety of resources to tell New Mexico’s nuclear story.

At different stations on the museum’s second floor gathering space, visitors will learn about the science of radioactivity, the places in New Mexico that contributed to the Manhattan Project, and the people who participated in the World War II effort. Visitors will learn about the arrival of scientists in Lamy by train, their stops in Santa Fe, the building of the city of Los Alamos, the project workers from northern New Mexico’s Hispanic villages and Pueblos, the impact of the nuclear test in nearby Tularosa downwind from the Trinity site, and the postwar uranium mining initiatives near Grants. In addition, the museum will carry the story through the Cold War and into the present day, sharing the history of the development of the national laboratories, the opening of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, and the uranium enrichment plant in Eunice.

Also, this summer, July 13–14, the museum will host the second-annual Tech and the West Symposium. In partnership with the Santa Fe Opera, Tech and the West is a two-year initiative which presented the 2017 world premiere of the opera The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs and the 2018 opera Doctor Atomic. Doctor Atomic takes place during the summer of 1945, leading up to the detonation of the first atomic bomb at the Trinity Site outside Alamogordo.

Sunday–Thursday, 10 a.m–5 p.m, Friday 10 a.m–7 p.m (through October). $12 general admission; $7 NM residents with ID; Free first Sunday of the month to NM residents with ID, and Wednesdays to NM Seniors with ID. Free to Children 16 and under. Free Friday Evenings for NM residents.

This September 28–29, the New Mexico History Museum and the New Mexico Museum of Art jointly host A Gathering for Gus—a two day-symposium commemorating the 100th Anniversary of artist Gustave Baumann’s arrival in New Mexico.

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