William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum
Little Rock, Ark.
The newest presidential library cantilevers over the Arkansas River in a revitalized area of Little Rock, where Bill Clinton served as Arkansas’ attorney general and as a five-term governor before becoming the nation’s 42nd president.
The five-story main building features a 110-foot-long timeline with eight 18-foot-wide panels dealing with each year of the Clinton presidency, 1993 to 2001. The museum also has full-scale replicas of the Clinton-era Oval Office and the Cabinet Room, and a Cadillac limousine used during the Clinton administration.
Two of the museum complex’s most distinctive features are outside. “We just opened two brand-new amenities this fall that really set us apart,” said Rebecca Tennille, a spokeswoman for the museum.
“We have a Presidential Park Bridge that spans the river to North Little Rock and completes this large pedestrian loop. It is really a wonderful urban trail.
“And we have wetlands. They took acreage on the property and restored it back to its natural state. There is an elevated walkway in and among the wetlands.”
Tennille said the museum strives to have temporary exhibits that create learning opportunities for all ages. “We want to give folks opportunities to keep coming back,” she said.
A current exhibit that runs through mid-September is a tribute to the St. Louis Cardinals.
“We don’t have a pro team in Arkansas, so the Cardinals are pretty much our home team,” said Tennille.
The exhibit features more than 100 pieces of memorabilia from the Cardinals museum, among them the team’s two most recent World Series trophies, World Series rings and the recently restored uniform of former Cardinal great and Hall of Fame member Stan Musial.
— www.clintonlibrary.gov —
George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
College Station, Texas
The library and museum that cover the life and presidency of George H.W. Bush, 41st president and father of the 43rd, is on a 90-acre section of Texas A&M University’s West Campus.
An $8.3 million renovation in 2007 greatly increased the visitors interactive experience and features state-of the-art audio guides with the voices of George and Barbara Bush and their daughter, Doro Bush Koch.
The Bush museum also has a replica of his Oval Office. However, unlike most of the other presidential museums, you can enter the office and have your picture taken behind the desk.
The museum’s main exhibit has items ranging from a 1925 film of Bush’s first steps in Kennebunkport, Maine, to documents and artifacts from his multifaceted public career, which included service as a congressman; U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; chairman of the Republican National Committee; chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing, China; director of the Central Intelligence Agency; and vice president before being elected president in 1988.
Artifacts include a TBM Avenger aircraft similar to the one Bush flew in World War II, in which he was shot down over the Pacific Ocean; ordnance from Operation Desert Storm; a segment of the Berlin Wall, which fell during his presidency; and replicas of his Camp David office and the White House press room.
— www.bushlibrary.tamu.edu —