July 8, 2019; Associated Press
As funds to preserve the history of the Manhattan Project decrease, the Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF) and The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History are creating a partnership to keep the narratives and lessons of the Atomic Age alive.
As previously reported in NPQ, the common model of “capacity building” emphasizes the importance of making organizations sustainable and independent. In cases like this one, focusing on a strategic impact partnership model allows for more long-term solutions, and both organizations have much to gain from this new opportunity.
AHF led the efforts to create a Manhattan Project National Historical Park in 2015 with sites in Los Alamos, New Mexico; Hanford, Washington; and Oak Ridge, Tennessee. More recently, they have focused on creating online resources including articles, hundreds of oral histories from Manhattan Project veterans, and a directory of 14,000 Manhattan Project Veterans. Due to the secretive nature of the Manhattan Project, the U.S. government did not keep public records on the project, making AHF’s resources even more valuable.
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AHF’s press release announcing the partnership acknowledged their current financial hardships that factored into their decision to close their physical office in Washington DC.
With less than 3 percent of World War II veterans still alive, AHF has seen its base of Manhattan Project supporters dwindle over the past several years. With foundations favoring current weapons policy and advocacy organizations and little government support, AHF has found it increasingly difficult to sustain a fully staffed office in downtown Washington, DC.
The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History is a Smithsonian Affiliate Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico with a mission “to serve as America’s resource for nuclear history and science” and approximately 60,000 guests each year. They will incorporate AHF’s online resources into their website and incorporate the wealth of information into museum displays and educational programs.
As is often the case in major collaborative moves like this one, this is not the start of a partnership between the two organizations, but a continuation of their relationship and a strategic move that will benefit both of their missions.—Julie Euber