Presidential Libraries – Are They Worth a Visit

     The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum reopened October 1, 2009, after a major renovation.  Presidential libraries are usually updated periodically to include new historical insights made possible by the passage of time and new technology that enhances the visitor’s experience. These changes are made with private funds, not the taxpayer’s money, although, in my opinion, it would be a worthy use of my tax money.  The new Jimmy Carter museum has to rank among the best such historical museums.  It is beautiful, it is informative, it is easy to navigate, and an altogether pleasant and worthwhile way to spend an afternoon.

     I have visited several presidential libraries and have a goal to visit them all.  I have visited nuseums of both Democratic and Republican presidents, and in all of them I have been struck by the seriousness of the issues facing each of them in their time.  The exhibits tell us of  the background of the men who have held the office, providing some insight into the development of their values and thinking.  And they tell us about the women who were their partners and who shared their triumphs and burdens of office.

      As I viewed the exhibits on the major issues facing each of the presidents during their terms of office I have been surprised by how much recent history I have forgotten.  It is true that the exhibits point out the positive accomplishments of each administration, but these museums are so much more than a public relations vehicle for the president and his administration.  They are a showcase for what we, as a people have faced and experienced.  Not only are they superb educational tools for our children, a visit to any one of them is a wonderful way for adults to become reacquainted with our country and those who have led it.

     One thing different about the Carter Library is a section devoted to President and Mrs. Carter’s work since leaving Washington.  Even though I worked for years for the The Carter Center, I was taken aback to see the visual documentation of some extraordinary accomplishments.  Don’t miss this section.

  1. Thank you for a most interesting and well written article.

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