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Exhibiting atomic culture: the view from Oak Ridge

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In the aftermath of World War II, residents of "nuclear cities" like Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Los Alamos, New Mexico, where America's atomic weapons were produced struggled to interpret the nation's atomic history as well as their own stories, for themselves, for tourists and for other visitors. Once literally hidden cities, they remain steeped in Cold War culture and ideology, yet they face uncertain futures as weapons production needs change, hazardous waste dangers become more apparent and homeland security is threatened. "Atomic museums" established at these and other sites have become focal points of such dilemmas. Their evolving interpretations of America's atomic heritage play a significant role in shaping public understanding of the Bomb.

Keywords: Atomic culture; Cold War; Exhibitions; Museums; Oak Ridge; The Bomb

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Lemelson Center, Smithsonian Institution, P.O. Box 37012, NMAH, Room 1016, MRC 604, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2003

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