The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History (previously named National Atomic Museum) is a national repository of nuclear science details chartered by the 102nd United States Congress under Public Law 102-190, and situated in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“The mission of the National Atomic Museum is to serve as America’s resource for nuclear history and science. The Museum presents exhibitions and quality educational programs that communicate the variety of individuals and occasions that form the historic and technical context of the nuclear age.”
The Museum was originally sited in 1969 on the grounds of Kirtland Air Force Base in an old 90 mm anti-aircraft weapon repair work facility, and named “Sandia Atomic Museum”. It was the outcome of a six-year effort to establish a museum to tell the story of the base and the development of nuclear weapons, and was staffed by United States Air Force (USAF) personnel with assistance from Sandia National Laboratories (SNL). In 1973, the Museum name changed to “National Atomic Museum”, however it did not yet have a national charter.
In 1985, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) became responsible for the Museum, and the personnel ended up being DOE staff members. In 1991 the Museum received its charter as a national museum and its mission broadened to include aspects of nuclear science and history beyond the production of nuclear weapons. The Museum likewise ended up being affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution.
In 1992 the National Atomic Museum Foundation (NAMF) was created to function as a supporting organization for the Museum and minimize the financial concern on taxpayers. DOE transferred Museum operation to SNL in 1995, and Museum staff became SNL workers.
After the terror attacks in September 2001, increased security restricted public access to the Museum’s on-base site and forced relocation to a former REI store in Old Town Albuquerque’s museum district. In 2005, SNL transferred operational obligation to NAMF. SNL staff members working as museum personnel transferred to other positions within Sandia. The Museum employed new staff who became staff members of NAMF.
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