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American Museum Of Science And Energy

American Museum Of Science & Energy

AMSE’s virtual tour of Building 9731 with D. Ray Smith (Captioned)

The museum opened in 1949 in an old wartime cafeteria. It was originally named the American Museum of Atomic Energy. Its guided tours took visitors through the peaceful uses of atomic energy. The present facility, opened in 1975, continues to provide the general public with energy information. The name of the museum was changed to the American Museum of Science and Energy in 1978.

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American Museum of Science and Energy

If you are interested in visiting a few other fun-filled and exciting Oak Ridge landmarks, you might try 1) the second nuclear power plant ever built , including a graphite reactor that fuels one light bulb and an open cooling tank where you can actually see the reaction glowing, and 2) the American Museum of Science and Energy, a down-home country museum about nuclear, hydroelectric and other forms of energy. Nearby, the Museum of Appalachia shows how area residents lived before the atom was split, and has a great festival every fall where craftspeople and oldtimers make sorghum, lye soap, apple-head dolls and other Tennessee stuff. There’s excellent music there, too.

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Hands On Fun With Science At The American Museum Of Science And Energy

Oak Ridge has an incredible history as a city planned in secret for the Manhattan Project, the USs successful attempt to build an atomic weapon during World War 2. Oak Ridge National Labs has continued its legacy as a place of cutting edge science since then, becoming a center for advanced materials manufacturing and boasting the worlds fastest supercomputer.

The American Museum of Science and Energy is run by the Department of Energy and is full of exhibits on Oak Ridges past history, its current projects, and what it is looking to accomplish in the future. The current museum is completely new and has just moved from its old location in 2018. While considerably smaller due to DOE budget cuts, the staff has managed to pack the space with lots of interesting stuff.

The outside of the new AMSE building

Map of Oak Ridge and AMSE as well as the Oak Ridge Childrens Museum and Big Eds Pizza. Map courtesy of OpenStreetMaps.

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American Museum Of Science And Energy

American Museum of Science &  Energy
American Museum of Science and Energy


The American Museum of Science and Energy is a science museum in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, designed to teach children and adults about energy, especially nuclear power, and to document the role Oak Ridge played in the Manhattan Project. The museum opened as the American Museum of Atomic Energy in 1949 in an old World War II cafeteria on Jefferson Circle. It moved to its second facility in 1975 and was renamed AMSE in 1978. As of June 2019, the museum is located in the shopping mall across the street from the old location.

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What To Expect

The museum is basically one big room with several partitions marking off areas for demonstrations and the hands on area. The big room has lots of free standing exhibits clustered in 5 main groupings- The Manhattan Project, Big Science, National Security, Energy Leadership, and Environmental Restoration.

The exhibits cover some pretty advanced concepts like super-computing and neutron generators, so this is actually one of the few science museums we have been to that is better for the high school crowd rather than the elementary school crowd.

But the 10 year old with us still had a blast with the hands on activities and there were plenty of exhibits that piqued his interest.

We spent about 2 hours in the museum including watching all of the videos, looking at the special exhibits, participating in the demonstrations, and saw just about everything.

Screens showing the history of Oak Ridge

You can use a play station controller to operate a mini super computer.

Why We Like It

The museum has lots to see in a small area and many of the exhibits are interactive with levers and buttons to push. The video and small section detailing the history of Oak Ridge and building the bomb is really well done and is one of my favorite parts.

The fun hands-on area for kids was another favorite section. You can practice your problem solving and engineering skills with blocks and learn some basic science such as completing a circuit board.

Lots of interactive exhibits in the museum.

The hands on room in the museum with brain buster puzzle and basic science experiments

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The Takeaway: Award Winning

In 2019, a team consisting of ECI, Designer, Architect, General Contractor, Media Producer, and AV Hardware Integrator were awarded United States Department of Energy Secretarys Achievement Award. This award recognized the Team for its significant contribution and unparalleled commitment to assure the successful establishment of the American Museum of Science and Energy.

Exhibit Concepts also won the 2018 United States Department of Energy Small Business of the Year Award. ECI competed against all nominated Department of Energy projects completed by small businesses in 2018. The award recognized the outstanding small business who generated innovative and technical solutions that contributed toward the fulfillment of our national security and energy missions.

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Exhibit Concepts, Inc. is full of creative and passionate people dedicated to providing unique solutions and excellent customer experiences.

Welcome Were So Glad Youre Here

Virtual Tour

In 1942, nearly 60,000 acres of East Tennessee landscape became part of the most significant defense strategy in the history of the United States the Manhattan Project. At the western-most boundary of the militarys new reservation, the war effort engulfed the tiny Wheat Community replacing farmhouses and fruit trees with massive concrete and steel structures that would produce the worlds first enriched uranium. By September 1943, construction had begun on a two-million-square-foot plant known as K-25. The plant would enrich uranium using the gaseous diffusion process. Ultimately, its product would fuel one of two atomic bombs that would end World War II. After the war, the K-25 plant continued to serve the nation. The K-25 History Center tells that incredible story. Our operating hours, address and phone number are listed below. We hope you will visit us soon and often.

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Plan A Visit To Amse:

As you visit the American Museum of Science and Energy, we want to encourage you to see and experience all there is to do. Oak Ridge is home to four great museums. The AMSE, the newly opened K-25 History Center, the Childrens Museum and the Oak Ridge History Museum each offer unique perspectives into the phenomenal work that stopped a world war and continues to influence the future. The natural surroundings and green spaces in the area are second to none. From rugged four-wheel drive mountain top trails, back country hiking, world class rowing, Oak Ridge, TN is a one-of-a-kind destination.

Please visit our partners at Explore Oak Ridge for more information.

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