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Monday, February 19, 2018 - 9:00 AM to Friday, April 13, 2018 - 4:45 PM


Regenstein Library, The Special Collections Research Center



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Joseph Regenstein Library


Science and Conscience: Chicago’s Met Lab and the Manhattan Project

On December 2, 1942, Enrico Fermi and Manhattan Project scientists successfully operated the world’s first nuclear reactor beneath the West Stands of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago.

Chicago’s role in the Manhattan Project did not end with the successful operation of the first nuclear reactor. Buildings across the University of Chicago campus were converted for use by the code-named Metallurgical Laboratory (Met Lab), which conducted research on uranium and plutonium and investigated the biological effects of radiation.

Chicago’s Met Lab also took the lead in organizing scientists’ political response to the devastation caused by atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Met Lab veterans created the Atomic Scientists of Chicago, began publishing the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and pressed successfully for the passage of the Atomic Energy Act and creation of the civilian Atomic Energy Commission.

Based on archives and manuscripts in the Special Collections Research Center, this exhibition presents unique historical documents and artifacts, many not previously exhibited.

Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m., and, when University of Chicago classes are in session, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.