Rocky Flats may be closed, but its effects still cast a shadow.
In an effort to offer a place for discussion from all parties, and to show all generations what the birth and progression of the nuclear age looked like, the Rocky Flats Cold War Museum has opened in Olde Town Arvada, 5612 Yukon St.
“We want to show the story of Rocky Flats from multiple perspectives — the environmental issues, the life of the workers and the people who protested it,” said Conny Bogaard, project manager. “The goal is to build a platform where the community can come together to examine the legacy.”
The museum’s inaugural exhibit is “Behind the Atom Curtain: Life and Death in the Nuclear Age,” an Atomic Photographers Guild collection of photos of the landscapes, people and aftermaths of nuclear testing and power plants. The exhibit runs through Nov. 30.
The exhibit is curated by Robert Del Tredici, the founder of the Atomic Photographers Guild, and features not only photos of the history of Rocky Flats, but also of the Trinity Explosion in Alamogordo, N.M., and photos from Yoshito Matsushige, the only photographer allowed to photograph Hiroshima after the bombing.
The social impacts are also documented with photos of protests after the disasters at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima.
“This exhibit is partly a story of Colorado and local concerns, but it also shows the global concern,” Bogaard said.
Local photographer Carole Gallagher, who has spent years documenting the lives of those affected by nuclear use, has a display of her works about people who lived near the testing in Nevada.
Gallagher, who grew up in New York City, said she was raised during the time of great fear of a nuclear strike being imminent.
“I always wondered what happened to the people who lived near the testing areas,” she said. “So in my work I focused on workers, downwinders and atomic veterans.”
Gallagher said she really came to admire the workers at these sites, who really put their lives on the line for their country. Many of Gallagher’s stark, black and white photos, show people who lived in Nevada while nuclear tests were going on and were told that they were safe, only to develop a wide-range of health issues, including a variety of cancers and bone diseases.
“This exhibit really has captured the first moments of the nuclear age, and when it will end we don’t know,” Gallagher said.
Bogaard is careful to note that the museum and its exhibit is not a condemnation of nuclear power or Rocky Flats, but is a place that brings to light issues about nuclear use that still are up for debate.
“We raise a lot of questions, and it’s not necessarily about having the answers,” she said. “Instead, we want it to be something people think and talk about, and come away with a new understanding.”
The museum is open noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
For more information call 720-287-1717 or visit www.rockyflatsmuseum.org.