Kennedy memorabilia unveiled at Bradbury Science Museum
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LOS ALAMOS, New Mexico, April 19, 2011—For almost a half-century, no one except a handful of Los Alamos National Laboratory employees even knew it existed—a collection of lovingly preserved artifacts from President John F. Kennedy’s 1962 visit to Los Alamos.
For the first time, LANL is making the collection available to the public, who can see it until this August at the Bradbury Science Museum.
“We’re fortunate that the folks working at the Lab’s Chemistry and Metallurgy Research (CMR) facility saved these objects and preserved them for the past 50 years,” said exhibit coordinator Omar Juveland. “They are touching and appropriate mementos from President Kennedy’s visit to Los Alamos.
Museum visitors can see the manipulator grips the President held when he remote-handled radioactive materials inside the hot cell at the CMR facility. They’ll also see the cups and saucers Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson used when they had coffee with Laboratory Director Norris Bradbury.
“I had heard that there was a ‘coffee service’ somewhere at the Lab used for the President’s visit,” Juveland said. “I pictured in my mind some sort of silver-plated coffee set engraved for the occasion. I was a bit surprised when I saw it was the standard tan-colored Dallas Ware® cups and saucers from the old cafeteria.” He added, “People who saw the President said that he took three teaspoons of sugar and much too much cream.”
The President, Vice President Johnson, and their entourage spent 100 memorable minutes in Los Alamos as part of a tour of Western U.S. defense installations. Their visit to the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, as LANL was then known, was for a briefing on the details of the top-secret Project Rover, the Lab’s program at the CMR to develop nuclear rocket engines for space travel.
Kennedy was impressed by what he saw. “There is no group of people in this country whose record over the last 20 years has been more preeminent in the service of their country than all of you here in this small community in New Mexico,” Kennedy told Los Alamos residents, thousands of whom lined the streets and cheered when the presidential motorcade passed by.
Museum visitors who attended President Kennedy’s visit are encouraged to record their recollections of that special day in a remembrance book on display at the museum, Juveland said.
The museum is located at 1350 Central Avenue in downtown Los Alamos. It is open Tuesday through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays and Mondays from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (505) 667-4444 or visit http://www.lanl.gov/museum/.
Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, BWX Technologies, Inc. and URS for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.
Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.