National

Los Alamos museum refuses to host A-bomb exhibit, citing stance on nuclear abolition

Kyodo

The executive director of a museum in the town of Los Alamos, New Mexico, said Friday that it will not host a traveling exhibition focused on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as planned due to concerns over the exhibitors’ position on the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The exhibition, organized by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, aims to educate about the bombings that destroyed the cities toward the end of World War II.

“It is the exhibit’s call for the abolition of nuclear weapons that raised concerns,” said Heather McClenahan, executive director of the Los Alamos Historical Museum.

Based in New Mexico, the museum is in the same town that hosted the secretive Manhattan Project, which developed the “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” bombs that leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively, in 1945.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory, which works to “solve national security challenges through scientific excellence,” still operates in the town.

Staff at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum had earlier said the hosting plan was canceled because residents of Los Alamos were unlikely to be in favor of it, but McClenahan said she hopes “we can overcome cultural and linguistic differences and host exhibits that are respectful to all of our communities’ concerns and stories.

“The board of directors’ concern with the traveling exhibit is not the history it shows, which is remarkable and a history that Los Alamos shares with Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” McClenahan said, while adding the museum’s hierarchy would disagree on any call for the abolition of nuclear weapons without the presentation of specific steps to achieve the goal.

“Neither the museum nor the community of Los Alamos as a whole is against the idea of the abolition of nuclear weapons, but we believe it needs a verifiable and scientific approach,” she wrote.

According to McClenahan, thousands of Los Alamos residents “work on nuclear weapons and the issues that surround them every day, including significant work on non-proliferation.”

It was determined that the A-bomb exhibit would not take place next year when the museums were unable to come to an agreement on a grant proposal from the United States-Japan Foundation, which would co-sponsor the exhibit’s stint, in the week before the application was due.

McClenahan said the Los Alamos board was put “in a difficult position” as members had a week to make a decision.

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