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Las Vegas' National Atomic Testing Museum

Las Vegas’ National Atomic Testing Museum explores the role that the Nevada Test Site played in U.S. history.

atomic bomb explosion, nevada desert
Photo caption
Flashback: A 14-kiloton bomb shakes the desert in 1951.

Las Vegas is no stranger to bright lights. The National Atomic Testing Museum, however, recalls the days when flashing lights had less to do with the Strip's neon marquees than with bombs going off in cold war experiments conducted in the desert 65 miles northwest of the casinos.

From 1951 through 1992, nearly 1,000 nuclear blasts took place at the Nevada Test Site. The Atomic Testing Museum, which first opened in 2005, explores the role this site played in U.S. history. In the Ground Zero Theater, visitors experience what it was like to witness a test during the 1950s. The Innovators Gallery features a video of former employees discussing their feelings about nuclear testing. "Reminding people what the cold war was all about is probably the most important the testers thought they were saving the world."

Photography courtesy of Atomic Testing Museum

This article was first published in January 2005 and updated in February 2018. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.