Atomic Heritage Foundation

In partnership with the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Manhattan Project Sites News: September 2018

Manhattan Project Sites News: September 2018

The late Bill Wilcox by the Friendship Bell. Courtesy of the Friends of the International Friendship Bell.

On September 20, Oak Ridgers dedicated the new Peace Pavilion for the City’s International Friendship Bell in A.K. Bissell Park. The 8,000-pound Japanese-style bell, created in the 1990s as part of Oak Ridge’s fiftieth anniversary, is meant to symbolize peace and reconciliation between the United States and Japan after World War II. Unfortunately, the pavilion that originally housed the Friendship Bell (depicted in photo at left with the late Oak Ridge city historian Bill Wilcox) deteriorated and had to be torn down in 2014.

The new Pavilion was designed by architect Ziad Demian. In a nod to Oak Ridge’s history of scientific innovation, it features composite material beams developed in part by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Going forward, the Pavilion will feature benches with 3D printed backs (ORNL is a leader in researching 3D printing technology) and Japanese-style gardens. The ceremony for the new Peace Pavilion was covered by the Oak Ridger, WBIR, and the Knoxville News Sentinel, and was attended by dignitaries such as Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Consul-General at the Japanese Consulate in Nashville, and Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch.

AHF will soon publish an interview with Shigeko Uppuluri on the Voices of the Manhattan Project website. Uppuluri and her late husband, Ram, led the campaign to build the Bell. An interview with Patricia “Pat” Postma, co-chair of the International Friendship Bell Citizens Advisory Committee, is now available on the website. In the interviews, Uppuluri and Postma reflect on the campaign for the Bell, describe some of the opposition it initially faced, and share their thoughts on what the Bell represents.

The American Museum of Science and Energy (AMSE) at Oak Ridge will have a soft opening at its new location at 115 Main Street East on October 1, 2018. As of October 18, the Museum will be open seven days a week. An AMSE press release explains, “The new 18,000-square-foot space includes a newly-designed exhibit gallery featuring state-of-the-art interactive exhibits and hands-on activities, as well as a lecture hall and classroom facilities.” Before it closed earlier this year, the Museum had been located in a 54,000-square-foot building at 300 South Tulane Avenue. The old AMSE site is being redeveloped for retail.

A new museum, the Oak Ridge History Museum, has also opened in Oak Ridge. The Museum is located at the Midtown Community Center at 102 Robertsville Road and is currently open Thursdays through Saturdays. Organized by longtime AHF partner the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association (ORHPA), the Museum focuses on the stories of the people who lived in Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project. For more on the new Museum, see this Oak Ridger article. You can visit the Museum’s website at

The Oak Ridge Unit of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park continues to organize events. On September 22, a program discussed three people who worked on the Manhattan Project: the physicist Leona Woods Marshall; the photographer Ed Westcott; and the mathematician J. Ernest Wilkins Jr. To learn more, see this article from Oak Ridge Today.


The B Reactor at Hanford, WATwo popular events returned at the Hanford, WA Unit of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. On September 22, bicyclists participated in the third annual Ride the Reactor event, which included a tour of the B Reactor and interpretive talks by National Park Service rangers. The proceeds of the event supported the Hanford Unit’s educational programs.

The weekend of September 28-30, the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers held their third annual concerts at the B Reactor. According to the Tri-City Herald, the concerts, organized under the theme “Song of Democracy,” included the opening chorus of the John Adams opera “Doctor Atomic” and Benjamin Britten’s “Holy Sonnets of John Donne.” Donne’s sonnets are believed to be the inspiration for naming the Alamogordo, NM test site “Trinity.”

In the article, Mid-Columbia Mastersingers artistic director Justin Raffa comments, “We want to look through an unbiased historical lens and remind people, ‘This is what happened. We leave it up to you to decide what was right, what was wrong, but more importantly, what do we do now? What are the lessons learned? What do we do today and into the future, coming out of that history?’”

Los Alamos

Nixon-Khrushchev Kitchen Debate, 1959. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.The Los Alamos History Museum has announced its 2018-19 lecture series. Organized in recognition of the Museum’s 50th anniversary year, the talks focus on a variety of subjects. The first lecture on September 18 featured Andrew Wulf, executive director of the New Mexico History Museum and the Palace of the Governors. He discussed the 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow, an example of Cold War cultural diplomacy. (Pictured, left: the 1959 "Kitchen Debate" between Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the Exhibition).

Other upcoming lectures include “Waste Makes Haste: An Anthropologist’s View of the 2014 LANL-WIPP Organic Kitty Litter Accident,” “Traditional Stories from Northern New Mexico,” and Los Alamos Historical Society executive director Heather McClenahan’s reflections on the town’s history. The series will conclude on May 14 with a performance of Richard Rhodes’s play “Reykjavik,” a dramatization of the 1986 summit between Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan that nearly led to an agreement to eliminate the two countries’ nuclear weapons. For more on the lecture series, see this article in the Los Alamos Daily Post.