[Operation Crossroads: 21 Kiloton "Baker" Bomb Detonated Ninety Feet Underwater, Bikini Atoll Lagoon, South Pacific, July 25, 1946]

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

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On July 25, 1946, the U.S. government detonated a nuclear bomb 90 feet under the ocean in Bikini Atoll Lagoon, in the Marshall Islands of the South Pacific. The U.S. Photographic Signal Corps took this photograph of the event. The test was part of what the military dubbed “Operation Crossroads.” It took place mere months after the United States military dropped two nuclear bombs killing hundreds of thousands of people at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The blast sent a 2,000-foot-wide column of nine million liters (two million gallons) of water 2.4 kilometers (a mile and a half) into the air and created a mushroom cloud 12.8 kilometers (eight miles) high. This photograph is a colonial document. The United States government left tons of nuclear waste in the Marshall Islands, which it continues to hold as a colonial possession. The Met owns this print of the Army photograph.

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