A peek into the archives: Fermilab artifacts now on display

Fermilab Archivist Valerie Higgins stands next to the new permanent display of Fermilab artifacts. Photo: Hannah Ward

Fermilab Archivist Valerie Higgins stands next to the new permanent display of Fermilab artifacts. Photo: Hannah Ward

During Fermilab’s 50th anniversary, we shared memories, photos and artwork to tell the history of the lab. The Fermilab Archives has now added another element to the story — a display of unique Fermilab artifacts. The display is located on the 15th floor of Wilson Hall near the site model of Fermilab. It was set up just in time for the Open House and is now a permanent display.

Valerie Higgins, Fermilab archivist, carefully chose artifacts that represent the range of time and work that defines Fermilab through symbols of the history before the lab, art at the lab, computing, accelerators and detectors.

“The Fermilab Archives document the whole range of the lab’s history, from the people who lived on the land before the lab was here to the lab’s recent scientific accomplishments,” Higgins said. “The displayed artifacts are just the tip of the iceberg of what we have in the Archives.”

The display includes:

  • Cases of arrowheads collected on site from 1911 to 1968
  • A large glass dome that once covered cameras inside the 15-foot bubble chamber
  • Lead glass blocks and a photomultiplier tube that were part of a particle detector
  • Two large masks created by Fermilab engineers to develop SVX chips for the CDF and DZero detectors. The chips were connected to other parts of the detectors by hundreds of wires thinner than a human hair. You can also see a spool of this wire in the display.
  • A model of “Broken Symmetry,” a sculpture by the lab’s first director, Robert R. Wilson
  • Cross sections of dipole and quadrupole magnets from the Tevatron

Come check out the new display! For more information about the Fermilab Archives, visit http://history.fnal.gov.