Closure Update due to COVID-19

We are committed to providing our visitors with safe and enjoyable visits, and it is for this reason the museum interior remains closed under the state's supervision. Heritage Park, the nine-acre outdoor exhibit area, and the Museum's Retail Store are now open daily, from 9 am to 4 pm. Learn more.


Symposium Speakers

The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History is honored to present our local, national, and international communities with a thought-provoking and relevant virtual symposium focusing on the 75th Anniversary of the ending of WWII. This virtual event will provide an understanding of the Manhattan Project and its implications on the Pacific conflict and following Cold War issues. The panels of distinguished guests will consider current and future concerns and create a public dialogue regarding a path forward for our world and defense concerns.

"They Changed Our World; The 75th Anniversary of World War II and the Use of Atomic Weapons Virtual Symposium" will take place via Zoom Webinar on Saturday, September 19, 2020. Two panel sessions will take place, one from 8:30-10:30 am and the second from 10:45 am-1:00 pm. Guests are welcome to register for one or both panel sessions, and advanced registration is required. One panel session is $25 or both panel sessions are $40 when purchased together.

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Cynthia C. Kelly, Moderator (Both Panels)

Cynthia C. Kelly is President and founder of the Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Manhattan Project and its legacy. From 2002 on, AHF led efforts to create a Manhattan Project National Historical Park, working with Congress and Federal, State and local partners. The park was established in 2015.

For nearly two decades, AHF has developed interpretive and educational resources on the Manhattan Project and its legacy. AHF has collected over 600 first-hand accounts from Manhattan Project participants and published them at “Voices of the Manhattan Project” ( The site is a resource for scholars, journalists, radio, TV and film producers, museums, and audiences worldwide.

AHF also created a “Ranger in Your Pocket” series at . The Ranger programs are audio/visual tours of Manhattan Project sites and related topics accessible on smartphones and personal computers. In addition, AHF has published a best-selling anthology, The Manhattan Project, (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007), a series of guidebooks to the Manhattan Project sites, documentary films, posters, T-shirts and other materials.

With degrees in history from Wellesley College (BA) and Yale University (MAT) in history, Ms. Kelly was a senior executive with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy for twenty-five years. After retiring in 2000 with the Distinguished Federal Career Award, she founded AHF in 2002.

Richard Rhodes, The Manhattan Project (Panel 1)

Richard Rhodes Richard Rhodes is the author of twenty-­‐‐six books including The Making of the Atomic Bomb, which won a Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction, a National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award; Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, which was shortlisted for a Pulitzer Prize in History; and two further volumes of nuclear history. His latest book, Energy: A Human History, was published by Simon & Schuster in May 2018. Rhodes has received numerous fellowships for research and writing, including grants from the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard, MIT and Stanford and a host and correspondent for documentaries on American public television. With his wife, Dr. Ginger Rhodes, a clinical psychologist, he lives above Half Moon Bay, California.

Dr. Jon Hunner, The Manhattan Project in New Mexico (Panel 1)

Dr. Jon Hunner taught at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico for twenty-three years before retiring in 2018. His specialty is 20 th century U.S. history and Public History. In addition to his two award winning books with the University of Oklahoma Press (Inventing Los Alamos and J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Cold War, and the Atomic West), he has published numerous chapters and articles on nuclear history, oral history, historic preservation, living history, and the history of the Southwest. Over the years, he has worked with numerous communities in the United States as well as Europe to preserve their heritage through restoring historic buildings, interviewing elders, and conducting re-enactments with students of all ages. Currently, he is completing a history of the United States from those places where history actually happened. He has driven over 60,000 miles since 2016 and visited over 250 history museums and National Park Service sites to research this place-based narrative of the country.

Gregg Herken, The Cold War (Panel 2)

Gregg Herken is an Emeritus Professor of History at the University of California, and was a member of the Founding Faculty at the University’s newest campus, in Merced, California, which opened in 2003. He is also currently a Senior Fellow at Middlebury University’s Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California.

Herken received a Ph.D. in modern American diplomatic history from Princeton University in 1974, and subsequently taught at Oberlin College, Yale University, Caltech, and the University of California. From 1988 to 2003, he was a senior Historian and the Curator of Military Space, as well as Chairman of the Department of Space History at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Herken served as an Intern Analyst on the Soviet Internal Affairs desk of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1971, and in 1994-95 was detailed by the Smithsonian to serve as a Senior Research and Policy Analyst for President Clinton’s Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, at the request of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Herken is the author of five books: The Winning Weapon: The Atomic Bomb in the Cold War (Knopf, 1981); Counsels of War (Knopf, 1985); Cardinal Choices: Presidential Science Advising from Roosevelt to Reagan (Oxford, 1992); Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller (Henry Holt, 2002), and The Georgetown Set: Friends and Rivals in Cold War Washington (Knopf, 2014). Brotherhood of the Bomb was a finalist for the 2003 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History.

Gregg Herken was born in Richmond, California, on May 23, 1947. He is married to Linda Aven Switzer of Needham, Massachusetts, and have one son, Benjamin. The couple live in Santa Cruz, California.

Rachel Bronson, Global Energy, Doomsday Clock (Panel 2)

Rachel Bronson is the president and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. She oversees the publishing programs, management of the Doomsday Clock, and a growing set of activities around nuclear risk, climate change, and disruptive technologies. Before joining the Bulletin, Bronson served as the vice president of studies at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She also taught “Global Energy” as an adjunct professor at the Kellogg School of Management.

Prior to moving to Chicago, Bronson served as senior fellow and director of Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Earlier positions include senior fellow for international security affairs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and adjunct professor at Columbia University. Bronson’s book, Thicker than Oil: America’s Uneasy Partnership with Saudi Arabia (Oxford University Press, 2006), has been translated into Japanese and was published in paperback in June 2008.

Her writings have appeared in publications such as Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, and The Chicago Tribune. She has appeared as a commentator on numerous radio and television outlets, including National Public Radio, CNN, al Jazeera, the Yomiuri Shimbun, “PBS NewsHour,” “The Charlie Rose Show,” and “The Daily Show.” Bronson has served as a consultant to NBC News and testified before the congressional Task Force on Anti-Terrorism and Proliferation Financing, Congress’s Joint Economic Committee, and the 9/11 Commission.

Bronson is a board director of the American University of Iraq Foundation and a board member of the Francis W. Parker School. She has served as co-chair of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Producer Guild, and as a board member of the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. Bronson was named by Today’s Chicago Woman magazine as one of 100 Women to Watch (2012), 20 Women to Watch by Crain’s Chicago Business (2008), a Carnegie Corporation Scholar (2003), and a Glamour Magazine “Wow Woman” (2002). She is a member of the International Women’s Forum, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Economic Club of Chicago and the Pacific Council. She earned a BA in history at the University of Pennsylvania and a MA and PhD in political science from Columbia University in 1997.

Sig Hecker, Current Threats and Future Concerns (Panel 2)

Siegfried S. Hecker is a professor emeritus (research) in the Department of Management Science and Engineering and a senior fellow emeritus at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University. Hecker was co-director of CISAC from 2007-2012. He served as the fifth director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1986-1997. Hecker received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in metallurgy from Case Western Reserve University. His current professional interests include nuclear weapons policy, plutonium research, global nuclear risk reduction with Russia, China, Pakistan, India, North Korea and Iran, the safety and security implications of the global expansion of nuclear energy, and threats of nuclear terrorism. In 2016, Dr. Hecker published two edited volumes documenting the history of Russian-U.S. laboratory-to-laboratory nuclear cooperation since 1992.

Dr. Hecker is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, fellow of ASM International and The Metallurgical Society. Among other awards, he received the Presidential Enrico Fermi Award, the 2018 American Association of Engineering Societies National Engineering Award, the National Academy of Engineering Arthur M. Bueche Award, the American Nuclear Society’s Eisenhower Medal, the TMS-AIME Honorary Membership Award, the ASM International Honorary Membership Award, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Science Diplomacy, the American Physical Society Leo Szilard Lectureship Prize, the American Nuclear Society Seaborg Award, the Los Alamos National Laboratory Medal, Stanford University’s Eugene L. Grant Undergraduate Teaching Award, and the Department of Energy's E.O. Lawrence Award.