Nina Elder, Jumbo (Trinity Test Site, April 7, 1945)

Nina Elder, Jumbo (Trinity Test Site, April 7, 1945), 2012

Nina Elder
born 1981 Colorado Springs, Colorado; lives Albuquerque
Jumbo (Trinity Test Site, April 7, 1945)
graphite and radioactive charcoal on paper

22 x 30 in.
Albuquerque Museum, museum purchase, 2017 General Obligation Bonds, © 2020 Nina Elder
photo by David Nufer

Nina Elder’s drawing, Jumbo, is based off of a government photograph which depicts large machinery used during the Trinity test being moved across the landscape. “Jumbo” was the code name for a 214-ton steel and concrete pill-shaped container designed to be used during the Trinity test. Scientists involved in the Trinity explosion were unsure if the initial TNT explosion would succeed in starting a chain reaction that would lead to the nuclear blast. If the chain reaction did not happen, the expensive plutonium core would have been scattered across the landscape. Jumbo was designed to house the Gadget during the explosion; if the nuclear component failed to detonate, Jumbo would contain the explosion including the plutonium which could be recovered for further experimentation. By the time of the test, scientists were confident that it would be successful and decided not to use Jumbo, instead they suspended it from a 70-foot steel tower 800 yards away from the explosion. The tower was flattened, but Jumbo remained intact and remains on site outside the entry gate to the Trinity monument.