From WSU Tri-Cities

Hanford-historicalRICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities will begin professionally curating and archiving artifacts from the Hanford site’s Manhattan Project and Cold War collection, funded through a subcontract with the U.S Department of Energy (DOE).

The university has many ideas for using the collection to expand upon the public’s understanding of “one of the most transformative periods in human history,” said Michael Mays, vice chancellor for academic affairs at WSU Tri-Cities.

The WSU Department of History and other areas will incorporate the information from the collection into undergraduate and graduate course offerings, allowing students to conduct research on and explore the collection.

“This sets the stage for the history of the Hanford Site to become a signature program for WSU Tri-Cities and yet another draw for visitors to the anticipated Manhattan Project National Historical Park,” Mays said. “We are pleased to be able to move the Hanford collection out of storage and into the public domain.”

Hanford-historical
B Reactor plutonium production complex at the Hanford Site, 1945.

The subcontract goes through September, with four one-year renewal options, and Mays said the goal is to move about 40 percent of the collection out of storage by September and the rest by September 2016.

He said the hope is, through some sort of collaboration, to build an exhibition space on campus to showcase the artifacts on a rotating schedule.

The collection contains more than 1,600 objects ranging from equipment developed for Hanford’s plutonium production work in the United States’ race to build the world’s first atomic bomb to personal objects from the 1943-45 Hanford construction camp, such as ceramic decorations and toys, whiskey and Coca-Cola bottles and more.

The collection includes more than 3,000 historic photographs.

“This collection contains Hanford’s most significant and unique objects from the Manhattan Project and Cold War era,” said Colleen French, National Parks program manager for DOE’s Richland operations office and the person responsible for the collection. “Hanford’s collaboration with WSU Tri-Cities will ensure expert care of the collection and make it available to the community, students, researchers and the visiting public.”

French said WSU Tri-Cities will be an educational partner offering unique capabilities and expertise to the Manhattan Project National Historic Park.

“With this collection, WSU Tri-Cities will develop a fundamental understanding about Hanford history that will be a real asset as interpretive and educational programs are developed for students of all ages,” she said.

WSU Tri-Cities will provide professional curatorial services to track and inventory the collection, clean the artifacts and make arrangements for public display and loans to qualified museums.

The university will also provide professional archivist services to identify and interpret historic items for researchers, institutions and the public. The university will act as a repository for the artifacts while complying with federal requirements for temperature, humidity control, security, fire protection and lighting.