EXHIBITION AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NUCLEAR SCIENCE AND HISTORY, ALBUQUERQUE, NM, 2018
When I was six years old, I lived in the town of Columbus, Nebraska. One day my father took me to see an orange metal building that had become the talk of the town. This was the A-Bomb test building made of corrugated steel. It had survived an atomic bomb blast at Yucca Flats, Nevada. The roof had caved in but it was still standing. It was proudly displayed at Behlen Manufacturing Co. where it was made.
Fast forward 60 years, to May of 2015 and I had been working several days on a new series of photographs in my studio in Santa Fe. I needed a break and I decided to drive to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque to attend the Asian Pacific Folk Festival.
Arriving late, I barely got my camera out of the bag when the announcement was made that the festival was officially over.
Disappointed, I decided to take a quick walk around the museum. I breezed through the first area and then walked into a space that stopped me in my tracks.
There before me was the American flag that flew at Trinity Site on August 1945. To the right was Fatman and Little Boy, the first atomic bombs. To the left was the 1942 Packard limo that carried Oppenheimer and the other scientists during the Manhattan Project.
I felt my shoulders drop as my camera fell by my side. I stood motionless, trying to take it all in. Here before me were the actual artifacts from one of the most pivotal moments in human history. My first thought was to use reason and logic to try and sort it all out, but after a time, I abandoned this approach. Eventually, my subconscious returned me to Columbus, Nebraska were as a boy I had stepped inside the orange painted A-Bomb test building.
Suddenly, I was brought back into the present by a voice over the PA: “the Museum will be closing in 20 minutes”. I raised the camera to my eye and focused on the rear window of the Packard limo flanked by the orange corrugated steel…