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Don’t devote your stay in Las Vegas solely to gambling and night-time shows. There are plenty of daytime activities on offer. First of all, I invite you to take a look at the museums.

On our last trip, we visited the Titanic, Bodies, Madame Tussauds and Shark Reef museums…

On this occasion, a visit to the Atomic Museum was high on our list of priorities. Often recommended by locals and boasting excellent ratings on all the review sites, The National Atomic Testing Museum stands out as a must-visit in Las Vegas.

Do we share this sentiment? Find out all you need to know about this museum, our opinion after the visit and some photos taken on site.

What is the National Atomic Testing Museum?

Created in 2055, the National Atomic Museum in Las Vegas is dedicated to the atomic tests that took place in Nevada from 1951 onwards. It is one of 37 national museums in the United States affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution.

atomic museum products

Few people know it, but the USA has done a lot of atomic testing in Nevada. While Las Vegas businessmen feared that these tests would lead to the city’s desertification, the opposite was true. Many tourists came to watch the test explosions from afar.

However, as you’ll see during your visit to the museum, not all these tests have been positive…

This museum is first and foremost a tribute to the scientists and people who worked on these tests. But it’s also an educational museum that teaches you lots about atomic energy, and a historical museum with objects from the period.

Where is the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas?

The National Atomic Testing Museum is located at 755 E Flamingo Road in Las Vegas. This road runs perpendicular to the Strip.

At the Flamingo casino (opposite Casears Palace and past Paris), turn east onto Flamingo Road. Then go straight on for 1.5 miles (2.4 km). The route is therefore easy to remember!

What are the opening hours of the National Atomic Testing Museum?

The National Atomic Testing Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

How much does it cost to visit the National Atomic Testing Museum?

For a museum in Las Vegas, prices remain attractive.

They currently stand at :

  • $24 for adults
  • $20 for seniors (62 and over)
  • 18 for children (ages 7 to 14)
  • Free for children aged 6 and under.

What do you see when you visit the National Atomic Testing Museum?

When you enter the museum, go to the right to pick up your tickets at the ticket office. Being French, the person at reception gave us an information sheet written in French.

You start with a first large room where you find various information on the beginnings of nuclear power with a few artifacts, lots of information panels (I’ve read almost everything and it’s taking a long time), photos of the scientists working on the project…

At the far end of the room is a large screen showing a continuous presentation film.

screen atomic museum
The first room shows a continuous presentation film.

Once you’ve visited this room, you can exit and go to the other side, where you’ll find the museum’s “tour.” This takes you through the ages, with important sections on :

  • The first atomic tests
  • Life in Las Vegas while the nearby desert was used as a testing ground
  • Derivative products sold to celebrate his trials
  • The story and consequences of nuclear weapons used in Japan
  • The Cold War arms race
  • De-escalation at the end of this period and management of current waste…

The list is not exhaustive, but as you can see, several decades and major events in world history are covered.

You’ll still find information panels and artifacts, but not exclusively.

The most surprising venue is the Ground Zero Theater. This little cinema looks more like a bunker than a nice theater. You sit on concrete rows, the doors close and a countdown begins. At the end of the countdown, you relive what people witnessing an atomic test experienced: noises, shaking, breathing… It’s an astonishing experience! Then a video starts, telling you more about the tests.

ground zero theater
Ground Zero Theater is the museum’s best-known attraction.

In addition to the cinema, several interactive terminals feature videos and games. The games are varied: how to recognize nuclear waste, how to sort it…

atomic museum las vegas
This terminal, which is not the only one, lets you watch short films.

How long does a visit to the National Atomic Testing Museum last?

On its official website, the National Atomic Testing Museum states that the visit lasts around 1h30.

This estimated time seems about right, since we took 1h15, taking our time but not doing everything.

Story and opinion of our National Atomic Testing Museum

Our review of the National Atomic Testing Museum is very positive! If you’ve got a spare moment, I highly recommend a visit.

We made the outward journey on foot. Despite the heat, it’s a quick trip from the Strip. On the way back, however, we opted for the Uber. We passed several strange beggars on the outward journey (e.g., a woman screaming to herself and cruising dangerously close to the road), and the peace and quiet of Uber are much safer and more pleasant…

Our visit was on a weekday morning in October. While other museums such as the Mob Museum remained well attended at similar times, the National Atomic Testing Museum only welcomed around twenty people. This low attendance is ideal. You can read the signs, look at the exhibits and interact with all the terminals without difficulty.

We were positively surprised by the number and quality of the objects in the collection. Seeing nuclear bombs, obviously demilitarized, is quite an event. To think that such a container can do so much damage…

atomic museum accessories
The museum’s collection is considerable.

The written information is rich. Once you’ve read all the panels, you’ll leave feeling a lot less stupid than when you arrived! The museum manages to show all the ancillary aspects of atomic testing, such as the lives of the scientists, the by-products, the geological consequences of the tests…

Yet you don’t feel like you are getting lost in a random collection. The chronology and segmentation of the museum’s sections are ideal.

The variety of formats (written, audio, video, games) is another plus. If you don’t like reading or are with children, you won’t be bored. However, for tourists, a solid knowledge of English is essential. You don’t need to be bilingual or have the vocabulary of a scientist, but if you don’t understand American TV or newspaper articles, understanding the museum’s information seems complicated to me.

At the very end of the museum, before the store, there’s a small but equally interesting “off-topic” section featuring, among other things, some stones from the Berlin Wall and a piece of a Word Trade Center tower.

world trade center museum
The tour ends with a section of the World Trade Center.

The aforementioned cinema is obviously a wonderful discovery, but it would be terribly reductive to think that the National Atomic Testing Museum’s interest lies in this activity. The session is short and unexceptional. We enjoyed the rest of the museum just as much. It was a full hour and a half!

As a professional blogger, I take advantage of my flexible schedule to travel a lot. I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list!