The bomb in the museum: Nuclear technology and the human element

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Abstract

This article examines the commemorative role played by museums of nuclear technology in the United States, particularly those supported by the government agency responsible for the nation s nuclear weapons and reactor programs, the Department of Energy. The management of public perceptions of America s nuclear history in these museums reflects national defence and security imperatives in the post 9/11 era. The legacy of American nuclearism is complex and contradictory, and presents a daunting challenge to curators in museums sanctioned by vested interests. The many beneficial civilian applications of nuclear technology have be balanced by the recognition of the dire destructiveness of nuclear weapons; the compulsion to celebrate American technological achievement has to be checked by the acknowledgement of the damage wrought by the military use of nuclear energy both at home and abroad. A comparison with the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum suggests that nuclear victory is more problematic to exhibit than nuclear victimhood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207 - 218
Number of pages12
JournalMuseum & Society
Volume11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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