Los Alamos National LaboratoryBradbury Science Museum
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Bradbury Science Museum

A Look Back at the Trinity Test

On display now at the White Rock Visitor Center.
June 27, 2019


  • Stacy Baker
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Be sure to stop by the White Rock Visitor Center to see "Looking back at Trinity."

Museums exist to tell stories, to serve as our collective memory and conscience and to remind us of dreams had, decisions made, and consequences felt. They are a testament to humanity’s introspection and its desire to look back on our endeavors and applaud our drive, imagination, and infinite capacity for creative expression. Museums also serve as a call to awareness and accountability for those moments in history that are not easily spoken of, whose stories call for thoughtful composition and sensitive narration to portray the most accurate and inclusive perspective. 

As the bridge to Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Bradbury uses over 60 interactive exhibits to connect a multinational audience to the Lab’s Manhattan Project beginnings.  The Museum then escorts them through current, leading-edge research, inspired by the project, which has led to breakthroughs in cancer treatments using cobalt-60, earthquake prediction using artificial intelligence, and drug testing using engineered organs. 

The Bradbury also “holds space” for those visitors seeking a deeper understanding of the Manhattan Project and of the scales used to weigh the cost of creating an atomic bomb against the cost of not summarily ending the largest, most devastating war in history.  To encourage contemplation and deliberation of one of the most earth-shaking leaps in human history, the Bradbury offers an entire gallery, as well as an immersive, 360° exhibit and a Public Forum wall. In July, we will also have a temporary exhibit installed in the White Rock Visitor Center to recognize next year’s 75th anniversary of the culmination of the Manhattan Project research, the Trinity test. 

Curated by Wendy Strohmeyer, the Bradbury’s Collections Specialist, the temporary exhibit will feature actual Trinity Test artifacts, many of which were at the test site on July 16, 1945.  The artifacts include cameras used to record the test, pieces of trinitite, and a Geiger counter, along with first-hand accounts from observers. Why, you might ask, are these significant artifacts and observations not already on display in our History Gallery? Aren’t they, after all, authentic and unique elements of the Lab’s origin story? The answer to those questions is that while they are indeed valuable artifacts with wonderful provenance, there is only so much real estate within the Museum’s walls, so the opportunity to share some of these prized artifacts at an offsite location means our story can reach an even greater audience.

Fortunately, our exhibit design team curates just such an offsite, rotating installation at the White Rock Visitor Center, which gives the Museum an additional venue for these smaller, temporary exhibitions. While these exhibits follow the same design process as those onsite at the museum, creating a small display with artifacts already on hand is a bit less complicated than most of our partner-curated exhibits and can be completed in far less time. In fact, this exhibit is in the final stages of fabrication and will be installed in White Rock, July 1, just a few short weeks after inception.

A pre-fabrication peek.
A peek into our design process.

Please be sure to stop by the White Rock Visitor Center to see Looking back at Trinity and don’t forget to come visit the Bradbury Science Museum up in Los Alamos to learn more about the Manhattan Project and ongoing research at Los Alamos. 

For more information about the Bradbury Science Museum collections, please contact wstrohmeyer@lanl.gov.