Wednesday, July 20, 2016

US Presidential Museums and Libraries

My last posting about the Lopez Memorial Museum and Library reminded me of Presidential libraries and museums in the US. There are 13 federally operated presidential libraries and museums in the US. Macrine and I have only visited four of them. The first library we visited was the Lincoln Library in Springfield, Illinois. The second and third were the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri and the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas. The fourth library was the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. For the list of the other 13 presidential visit the website:

Here are some information from Wikipedia on the four libraries that we have visited:

1. LINCOLN: The museum contains life-size dioramas of Lincoln's boyhood home, areas of the White House, the presidential box at Ford's Theatre, and the settings of key events in Lincoln's life, as well as pictures, artifacts and other memorabilia. Original artifacts are changed from time to time, but the collection usually includes items like the original hand written Gettysburg Address, a signed Emancipation Proclamation, his glasses and shaving mirror, Mary Todd Lincoln's music box, items from her White House china, her wedding dress, and more. The permanent exhibits are divided into two different stages of the president's life, called "Journey One: The Pre-Presidential Years", and "Journey Two: The Presidential Years", and a third, the "Treasures Gallery". Temporary exhibits rotate periodically. Past exhibits have dealt with the Civil War and Stephen A. Douglas. As of February 2014, a collection of Annie Leibovitz's photography, including photos of Lincoln's items, is on display.

2. TRUMAN: The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum is the presidential library and resting place of Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States (1945–1953), located on U.S. Highway 24 in Independence, Missouri. It was the first presidential library to be created under the provisions of the 1955 Presidential Libraries Act, and is one of thirteen presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.

History: Funeral services in 1972 for Harry Truman—president of the United States 1945—1953. His wife opted for a private service rather than a larger, state funeral in Washington, D.C.
Built on a hill overlooking the Kansas City skyline, on land donated by the City of Independence, the Truman Library was dedicated July 6, 1957, in a ceremony which included the Masonic Rites of Dedication and attendance by former President Herbert Hoover (then the only living former president other than President Truman), Chief Justice Earl Warren, and former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Here, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare Act on July 30, 1965. On December 11, 2006, Kofi Annan gave his final speech as Secretary-General of the United Nations at the library, where he encouraged the United States to return to the multi-lateralist policies of Truman.

Truman's office: when Truman left the White House in 1953, he established an office in Room 1107 of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City at 925 Grand Avenue. When the library opened in 1957, he transferred his office to the facility and often worked there five or six days a week. In the office, he wrote articles, letters, and his book Mr. Citizen. In 2007, the Truman Library Institute announced a $1.6 million preservation and restoration of his working office to preserve the artifacts it contains and allow for easier public viewing. The three-stage project completed in 2009 and features an enclosed limestone pavilion for better access and viewing and an updated climate control system. The office appears today just as it did when Harry Truman died on December 26, 1972.

Truman's funeral services Funeral services for Truman were held in the Library auditorium and burial was in the courtyard. His wife, Bess Truman, was buried at his side in 1982. Their daughter, Margaret Truman Daniel, was a longtime member of the Truman Library Institute's board of directors. After her death in January 2008, Margaret's cremated remains and those of her late husband, Clifton Daniel (who died in 2000), were also interred in the Library's courtyard. The president's grandson, Clifton Truman Daniel, is currently honorary co-chair of the Institute's board of directors.

Exhibits and program: Two floors of exhibits show his life and presidency through photographs, documents, artifacts, memorabilia, film clips and a film about Truman's life. The library's replica of the Oval Office is a feature that has been copied by the Johnson, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush libraries. In an educational program called The White House Decision Center, school students take on the roles of President Truman and his advisors facing real-life historical decisions in a recreation of the West Wing of the White House. The mural Independence and the Opening of The West by Thomas Hart Benton adorns the walls of the lobby entrance. The mural, completed in 1961, was painted on site by Benton over a three-year span.

3.EISENHOWER: The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home is the presidential library, museum, and resting place of Dwight David Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States (1953–1961), located in his hometown of Abilene, Kansas. The museum also includes his boyhood home, where he lived from 1898 until being appointed to West Point in 1911. It is one of the thirteen presidential libraries under the auspices of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Admission to the Visitor Center, Boyhood Home, Place of Meditation (gravesite), and the archives is free. Admission
to the museum is $12 for adults. The complex is open every day except New Year's Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Center for Public Affairs is the presidential library and final resting place of Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989), and his wife Nancy Reagan. Designed by Hugh Stubbins and Associates, the library is located in Simi Valley, California, about 40 miles northwest of Downtown Los Angeles and 15 miles west of Chatsworth. The Reagan Library is the largest of the 13 federally operated presidential libraries. The street address, 40 Presidential Drive, is numbered in honor of Reagan's place as the 40th President.

When the Reagan Library opened it was the largest of the presidential libraries, at approximately 153,000 square feet. It held that title until the dedication of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, Arkansas, on November 18, 2004. With the opening of the 90,000-square-foot. Air Force One Pavilion in October 2005, the Reagan Library reclaimed the title in terms of physical size; however, the Clinton Library remains the largest presidential library in terms of materials (documents, artifacts, photographs, etc.). Like all presidential libraries since that of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Reagan Library was built entirely with private donations, at a cost of $60 million (equivalent to $137 million in 2015. Major donors included Walter Annenberg, Lew Wasserman, Lodwrick Cook, Joe Albritton, Rupert Murdoch, Richard Sills, and John P. McGovern. For fiscal year 2007, the Reagan Library had 305,331 visitors, making it the second-most-visited presidential library, following the Lyndon B. Johnson Library; that was down from its fiscal year 2006 number of 440,301 visitors, when it was the most visited library.

On March 6, 2016, Reagan's widow Nancy Reagan died at the age of 94 of congestive heart failure. After the funeral, she was buried next to her husband at the library on March 11, 2016.

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