December 08, 2019

Museum Review - National Atomic Museum

While on my way from LA to Oklahoma, there was only one museum I wanted to see. Albuquerque is home to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, formerly known as the National Atomic Museum, and I was exceedingly glad that I took the time to visit.

Me with the Mk 23 Katie shell
Type: Museum of nuclear weapons, with some other stuff, too
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Rating: 4.8/5, A truly incredible collection, well worth the trip
Price: $14 for regular adults


The thing I most wanted to see was their Mk 23 "Katie" shell, which unifies my passions for battleships and nuclear weapons. But while this would probably be enough to qualify the museum for a 4.0 on its own, the rest of the collection was incredible. I basically spent the whole time racing from one artifact to the next, pausing only to talk briefly about how cool the thing I was looking at was.

A Trident missile inside the museum

The center of the collection was an incredible set of nuclear weapons and delivery systems, ranging from the obscure (nuclear depth bombs and even one British weapon) to the obvious (Little Boy and Fat Man) to the incredible (B83 and a Trident missile). Outside, there's a big park with lots of various delivery systems, everything from the only B-52B to have dropped a live nuclear bomb, to the MX missile, which was like aerospace engineer porn.

Me with the B-52B outside

There were also some exhibits that didn't have anything to do with nuclear weaponry. I didn't really look at these very much, as I was on a tight schedule and wanted to see the nukes, but they seemed well-done. I also skimmed the actual text about the weapons, but again, everything seemed fine. Overall, it's an excellent museum, and you should definitely go if you're in Albuquerque or if you like nuclear weapons.


  1. December 08, 2019Chris Bradshaw said...

    Is it a purely military museum or are there any concessions to civilian nuclear power and the various other weird ways we tried to harness the atom in the 50s? An active, currently operational exhibit displaying atomic gardening would be neat.

  2. December 08, 2019Mike Kozlowski said...

    ...That place looks amazing - wish it wasn't in New Mexico.

  3. December 08, 2019bean said...


    I definitely don't remember there being an active atomic gardening exhibit, cool as that would be. There was some stuff on the civilian side, but it wasn't as extensive as the military stuff, and I didn't look that closely or write down my impressions at the time. (Hazard of reviewing a place you visited two years ago.) From memory, it was pretty sober and straightforward. I think there was also some stuff on "the atom in pop culture", which probably comes closer to what you're thinking about.


    For you, it's worth the trip. I'm rather amazed there was never an HPCA meetup there.

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