National Atomic Testing Museum

The National Atomic Testing Museum located in Paradise, Nevada documents the history of nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site in the desert north of Las Vegas City. This is a scientific and educational institution aiming to help the public gain a better understanding of the history, research and effects of nuclear testing within the context of both political and scientific fields. The museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.

National Atomic Testing Museum

The National Atomic Testing Museum is found on 755 E. Flamingo Rd. This is roughly a 10 minute drive from where Flamingo Road intersects with The Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard South). The museum is open 10 am – 5 pm every day except Sunday when it doesn’t open until 12 am. It is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

The museum’s executive director and CEO is Allan Palmer, a former distinguished Air Force and Navy jet fighter pilot.

Atomic Testing Exhibitions

The National Atomic Testing Museum features both permanent and temporary exhibits. A collection of over 12,000 unique artifacts connected to nuclear testing, the cold war era, and nuclear and radiological science and technology resides here permanently. In addition to this, there are also a vast number of photographs, videos and scientific data and reports.

The museum covers the period that was started with the first test at the Nevada Testing Site in January 1951 and that continues into our present time. However, Native American artifacts found around the test area are also on display.

Since the National Atomic Testing Museum is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, it has been able to borrow artifacts from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and from the National Postal Museum.

Permanent exhibits regarding Atomic Testing in Nevada:

  • Development of The BombNational Atomic Testing Museum 2
    Learn about how the first atomic bomb was developed.
  • Atmospheric Testing
    This exhibit focuses on the atmospheric testing of atomic bombs that took place at the Nevada Test Site as well as in other parts of the world.
  • Underground Testing
    This exhibit is about nuclear testing underground.
  • Radiation
    Learn about how radiation is tracked, monitored and measured.
  • Atomic Culture
    How can you increase your chance of surviving an atomic blast? This exhibit goes beyond Duck and Cover.
  • Ground Zero Theater
    A theater where you get to experience a simulated atmospheric bomb blast.

The National Atomic Testing Museum has 12 interactive computer touch-screens with both videos and educational games. There is a Geiger counter display where you can learn how to use a Geiger counter and test various object to see how radioactive they are.

Area 51 Exhibition

In 2012, the National Atomic Testing Museum unveiled the exhibition Area 51: Myth or Reality. It became and instant success and was expanded two years later.

The exhibition includes a lot of information about military Area 51 projects that has been declassified. Of course, the issue of alleged testing of recovered UFO:s is addressed.

The exhibition includes photographs of unidentified flying objects, with a special focus on photographs from Robert Bigelows personal collection. (Robert Bigelow is the founder of Bigelow Aerospace.) The museum’s executive director and CEO is Allan Palmer personally selected negatives from Bigelows collection and had prints made from them. The photographs come from many different parts of the world and the oldest ones were taken back in the 1940s.

Another example of what you can see when visiting the Area 51 Exhibition are small pieces of material that has been claimed to hail from an UFO crash in Russia in 1986.

The weather station

Right outside the museum is a weather station that records weather date for downtown Las Vegas, including temperature, wind speed an background gamma radiation. The weather station is included in the Community Environmental Monitoring Network (CEMP).

Museum background & history

The Atomic Testing Museum was opened by the Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation in 2005. It was in part funded by selling commemorative Nevada Test Site license plates issued by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.

On December 31, 2011, President Barack Obama signed a military spending bill which designated the museum as a national museum affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution.