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Closure Update: S.A.M. Hall of Fame and Magic Museum


According to its website, the Society of American Magicians Hall of Fame and Magic Museum remains closed to public visits due to possible chemical contamination of its building, which followed a fire in a nearby Department of Water and Power (DWP) vault.

Recent environmental testing indicates that only exposed surfaces were contaminated and items that were housed inside file cabinets, desk drawers and other enclosures tested negative for contaminants. The Society of American Magicians ( S.A.M.) says that this is good news because it is likely that the various enclosures in the museum protected most items on display from serious contamination. However, until samples can be taken from selected items inside the displays, the S.A.M. will not know for certain.

Vapors from the fire included Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), which traveled through a DWP conduit into the building, where they were picked up by the ventilation system and circulated throughout. PCBs were widely used in industrial applications until 1977 when their manufacture was halted due to potential health risks to people receiving large exposures to the chemical compound.

The Hall of Fame and Magic Museum includes four theaters and numerous exhibits that illustrate the history of magic. Most exhibits are housed in glass or plexiglass enclosed alcoves and display cases, and the Society's records are stored in file cabinets and storage boxes.

The building owner, Hall of Fame, and Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters are working together toward an official, legal solution to DWP's responsibility for the cleanup process. -Wayne N. Kawamoto

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