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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Jim Sanborn is an American sculptor known for works such as “Kryptos” at the CIA Headquarters in McLean, VA.

Sanborn was born in Washington, D.C. on Novemeber 14, 1945. He studied art history and sociology at Randolph-Macon College and graduated in 1969. Sanborn earned his M.A. in sculpture from Pratt Institute in 1971.

Throughout his career, Sanborn has recevied numerous awards and grants for his artwork, especially his sculptures. He has exhibited his work in major museums in the United States, Asia, and Europe. Besides museum work, Sanborn has created public artwork pieces, which can be found across the United States as well as in Japan and Taiwan.

In his interview on the Voices of the Manhattan Project website, Sanborn discusses his exhibit “Atomic Time,” which is now on display at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, NM. The installation recreates the Manhattan Project scientists’ experiments at Los Alamos to determine when plutonium would go “critical” in an atomic bomb.

Sanborn explains why he decided to do the project, and how he carefully created each piece of the exhibit. He describes some of the artifacts in the exhibit, including the physics package of the Trinity device and an oscilloscope, and where he found some of the materials and artifacts he used. Sanborn also discusses the Slotin accident, the urchin initiator, and other key scientific and engineering devices from the Manhattan Project.


For more information about Jim Sanborn’s life, artwork, and awards, please see his website: 

Jim Sanborn's Timeline
1945 Nov 14th Born in Washington, D.C.
1969 Graduated as a dual art history and sociology major from Randolph-Macon College.
1971 Earned his M.A. in sculpture from Pratt Institute.

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