In the 1950s, the official museum of what was then known as the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory was established in an old icehouse on the bank of Ashley Pond. The small space displayed only classified exhibits, which meant a very limited number of visitors (and only in an official capacity).
It wasn’t long before the museum swapped its classified offerings for unclassified and moved into larger quarters. In 1963, thousands of guests poured through the doors every year to see artifacts, experience hands-on science and learn about the history of the Manhattan Project.
But even the bigger facility proved not big enough to accommodate all its guests (nor their cars, which needed spaces to park), and so, in 1993, the museum relocated to its present location on Central Avenue in downtown Los Alamos.
Today, the museum’s interactive exhibits continue to highlight the Lab’s current and historic research projects related to defense and technology and focus on Laboratory research related to national and international economic, environmental and social challenges. These exhibits, together with extensive educational and community programs, draw nearly 80,000 visitors a year.
60 years of the museum — at a glance
- 1953: The icehouse museum on the bank of Ashley Pond is established; it opens to official visitors in 1954
- 1963: Unclassified exhibits are added to the museum; 14,000 guests from 50 states and 40 countries visit this year alone!
- 1965: The museum moves to larger quarters and expands exhibits to include models from scientific groups within the Lab
- 1970: The Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory Museum is renamed Norris E. Bradbury Science Museum, honoring the Laboratory’s second director
- 1981: Major renovations take place; informal exhibits make way for professional, formal presentations
- 1987: Explorations begin for a new museum space
- Feb. 1, 1993: The Bradbury Science Museum opens to the public in its present location
- April 4, 1993: The museum launches with a grand opening