Living Under a Mushroom Cloud:
Fear and Hope in the Atomic Age
Between 1945 and 1965, Americans had mixed feelings about atomic power. They were pleased that American-developed atomic bombs had ended World War II, but afraid of that power being turned against them.
This fear escalated once the Soviet Union detonated its own nuclear bombs. Increased interest in civil defense and atomic blast survivability was one manifestation of the concern over atomic energy's destructive power.
At the same time, Americans were bombarded with positive images of atomic energy, some fantastic and some realistic, which promoted an optimistic view of the future.
American culture reflected some of the contradictions created by the coexistence of fear and hope in the so-called "Atomic Age."
This online exhibit examines themes in American culture during the Atomic Age. It is based on the original physical exhibit displayed June 24, 1997— January 11, 1998, at the Wisconsin Historical Museum.