Tourism

$2 million building for the history of Hanford, an anchor of STEM tourism

The new building in north Richland will bring the region’s nuclear history under one roof and, officials hope, will welcome tourists attracted by the local population’s achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Port of Benton has received planning permission to build a $2 million home for the Hanford History Project, currently located at the University of Washington in three cities. This is the first of several science and history buildings at 3251 Port of Benton Boulevard in the north of Richland.

Future stages will add museum spaces and a potential new home for the Manhattan Project National Historic Park, as well as showcasing material related to the nuclear submarine USS Triton, as well as the new LIGO Hanford Research Center.

According to Miles Thomas, the port’s director of economic development, port officials intended to build the complex as a whole, but would need to develop it in phases while they wait for grant funding. Last year, he refinanced his debt, freeing up about $4 million to support his vision for a STEM center that will welcome visitors and support the historic project.

According to Kim Shughart, senior vice president of Visit Tri-Cities, the center will allow tourists to learn more about Hanford and other science initiatives at Tri-Cities that see STEM as a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting visitors. .

“There are very few communities that have such a variety of STEM resources,” she said.

While the port is seeking additional funding for the entire project, the Hanford Historic Project needs space for its growing collection of equipment and documents related to the nuclear site.

The building will have personal offices for the archivist, curator and other project staff, as well as a place for evaluating materials. Thomas said this meant more material would be available for public exhibitions.

For example, if the Rich Museum in Richland wanted to put on an exhibition of what Hanford looked like in the 1960s, the curators won’t have enough space to work in their current premises, but they will in the future.

The Hanford History Project collects stories and documents and equipment related to the Manhattan Project and Hanford’s subsequent mission to produce plutonium for the nation’s nuclear arsenal, and now to clean up the legacy of radioactive and toxic materials.

Michael Mays, its director, was on the road and could not comment, but Thomas estimates paper documents make up 25% of the collection. That number is rising as the US Department of Energy releases materials to the archives to support the formal construction schedule for the Hanford facility.

Thomas said the physical objects opened eyes to the work being done at the top-secret Hanford facility. Telephone booths, meteorological and laboratory equipment and models – all of them found their place in the archives of the project, with a few exceptions.

“No hot materials,” he said.

The collection even includes Cold War material awaiting declassification.

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