American Museum of Science & Energy

Learn how 75,000 people kept a secret during World War II in an effort to end the war. From the frontier of Appalachia to the frontier of the nuclear age, you'll learn about Oak Ridge's leading-edge technology that continues to earn the US the title of "Super Power."

Spark inquiry, fuel imagination, and ignite discovery in science, history, and technology at the American Museum of Science and Energy (AMSE) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Explore the Frontier of Appalachia to the Frontier of the Nuclear Age.

Unearth the incredible story of Oak Ridge and the World War II Manhattan Project, the Allied race against the Axis Powers to create the first atomic bomb, inside the two levels of AMSE. Take the mystery tour and get introduced to “Oak Ridge: World War II Secret City” upon entering AMSE. Oak Ridge, during the 1940’s, was so secret it was not found on any map. A secret industrial complex and city of nearly 75,000 was created almost overnight. Genius, hard work, and patriotism united to end a horrible war and begin the Atomic Age.

In 1942, the world was at war. Tennessee was gearing up, as was the rest of the nation, to do its part in the war effort. See how industry, aviation, education, geography, and the seven-point plan of a Tennessee governor resulted in the resolve to plan for the entire state and its citizen soldiers to participate in “World War II: Tennessee Homefront,” an exhibition with funding from Humanities Tennessee. 

No one knew then that a small valley in East Tennessee would play such as big role in ending World War II. Originally known as Clinton Engineer Works, the city was not named Oak Ridge until after WWII. The city became the 5th largest city in Tennessee growing to between 75,000 and 100,000 workers at its peak. The city was behind a fence. There were seven gates into the city. Vehicles were searched coming into the city. Citizens 12 years old and over had a badge. The Project consumed one-seventh of the electricity in the U.S. The bus transportation system was the 4th largest in U.S. There were more than 300 miles of roads built and 55 miles of railroad. In 1945 the project cost $1.65 billion.

AMSE visitors will come to know the mission of the Manhattan Project, the construction of the three mystery plants to enrich uranium and the lifestyle of the people in a military pioneer town in the 1940’s. Watch the audiovisuals that tell the story and hear the voices of the workers, soldiers, and citizens of Oak Ridge. See photos of the children at play, before the days of television and computers. Get familiar with the spotter cards that would identify WWII enemy aircraft.   

Participate in live demonstrations on static and dynamic electricity and become an “Atom Smasher” or see how a model of a nuclear reactor works in “The Harnessed Atom.” Get fun down to a science with hands-on, minds-on activity stations at the Science Cart. Schedule the AMSE Science Classroom for grade level appropriate experiments on magnets, states of matter, remote sensing, ecology, and biology. Take an AMSE Scavenger Hunt and interact with exhibits to find answers to questions and solve the final puzzle. 

Boy and Girl Scouts can earn the Atomic Energy Merit Badge with instruction from museum staff and utilizing special equipment not available in the school classroom. Other badges can be completed in AMSE workshops, too.

In addition to AMSE’s Manhattan Project exhibits, students can participate in “Exploration Station,” where self-directed activities explore light and color, sound, problem solving, static electricity, robotics and more. Through the “Earth’s Energy Resources” exhibit, maps, tools, models and audiovisual are used to explore fossil fuels. Take a tour of the “World of the Atom” and find out about pioneering atomic scientists, natural radiation, nuclear waste storage, and nuclear energy in space. Visit the Discovery Shop and take home unique science, energy and history gifts, kits, books, and Oak Ridge souvenirs.

Science and history meet at AMSE daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. AMSE is located at 300 South Tulane Avenue in Oak Ridge and within short walking distance of hotels and restaurants. Admission to AMSE is nominal and group rates are available. To find out more about AMSE events, exhibits and programs, visit the website at www.amse.org. To schedule a group visit, call AMSE at (865) 576-3200. AMSE is a member of the ASTC Passport Program and the Smithsonian Institution Affiliation Program.

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Location

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Latitude: 36.0102975 Longitude: -84.2579699 Elevation: 888 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
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Seasons Open

All - Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas & New Year's Day

Hours Open

Mon-Sat 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sun 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Fees

$5.00 for adults, $4.00 for seniors & students, Children 5 & Under Free; Group Rates & Annual Memberships Available

ADA Accessibility Notes

Wheelchair Accessible

Pet Friendly Notes

Service Dogs Only

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