Energy museum in Oak Ridge transferred to the city

Energy museum in Oak Ridge transferred to the city

DOE saves $2 million a year and city gets land for new development

December 30th, 2016 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the largest U.S. Department of Energy science and energy laboratory. ORNL's diverse capabilities span a broad range of science and engineering disciplines, enabling the laboratory to explore fundamental science challenges and to carry out the research needed to accelerate delivery of solutions to the marketplace. (Photos courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy)

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

The federal government is transferring the American Museum of Science and Energy building, along with more than 17.1 acres, to the City of Oak Ridge today.

Transfer of the property will allow the city to explore future innovative development and economic stimulus opportunities, city officials said. In exchange, the city of Oak Ridge will provide 18,000 square feet of space for 15 years to the federal government at no cost in rent, utilities, or maintenance. 

A solution to transfer DOE property in the heart of our city has been one that has eluded the leadership of Oak Ridge for over 16 years. Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch said the deal finalized today "is a great example of local and federal government working together as partners to achieve success."

"This transfer creates a "win-win" for the community and DOE, by allowing new, modern facilities of public education and outreach to tell our historical story and the future of science and discovery," he said.

The occupancy agreement allows for DOE to continue to use the museum space in its current location for the next year while new space is being prepared.

In a ceremony in Oak Ridge, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said DOE is transferring the museum to the city in exchange for office space the city will provide elsewhere.

"From the Manhattan Project of World War II to the cutting-edge materials research of today, Oak Ridge has long played a vital role in American science and security," . Moniz said. "This agreement will ensure that Oak Ridge's history is preserved and shared while providing the city a new opportunity to create jobs and strengthen the local economy."

DOE first opened the American Museum of Science and Energy at its current site in Oak Ridge in 1975 as the successor to the museum which was initially established by the federal government in 1949. The museum showcases the work on The Manhattan Project that developed the first atomic bomb used during World War II.

Today the museum is managed by UT-Battelle, DOE's management and operating contractor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and attracts about 65,000 visitors annually.

 The site currently serves as the starting point for DOE's Public Bus Tours which include ORNL's Graphite Reactor, the Y-12 National Security Complex, and the former K-25 site (now East Tennessee Technology Park).

When the transfer is completed, DOE estimates it will save more than $2 million in long-term maintenance and operating expenses, and will receive new space to continue its public education and outreach efforts focused on Oak Ridge history, modern science, and national security.