Reagan at 100: The New Reagan LibraryFebruary 7, 2011 - 9:06 AM | by: Laura Prabucki
From acting with the “The Gipper,” to walking through a recreation of Berlin Wall, the newly renovated Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum is giving visitors an interactive approach to learning about America’s 40th President.
As part of the celebration of the 100th birthday of Reagan, the museum in Simi Valley, Calif. underwent a $15 million, one-year renovation. Starting Monday, the public can view the 17 new galleries.
“I think what we wanted to do was create a better story, better told,” said John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
“We had the advantage this time in 2011 in having 20 years of history behind us and it allowed us to take a look back at millions of documents and tens of thousand of artifacts and tell the story using modern museum technology in a very smart way.”
The 30,000-square feet exhibit is chronological, beginning with Reagan’s early years growing up in Illinois. It follows his days in radio as a Chicago Cubs announcer, then west to Hollywood, where he appeared in more than 50 television and film productions.
This is the part of the museum where visitors can star in “Knute Rockne, All American,” and then watch a replay of it.
The museum takes you along the road to the White House and allows guests to stand at the podium and give the same inaugural address that Reagan gave.
One of the most jarring parts of the museum is the section that focuses on the assassination attempt on Reagan, just 71 days into his presidency. Viewers see news footage of the shooting and then get to view the blue pinstripe suit the President wore that day, complete with the bullet hole and dried blood.
Other interactive exhibits include designing White House china, playing stock games and learning about “Reaganomics,” riding a horse alongside a picture of Reagan, and virtually flipping through the six volumes of Reagan’s diaries.
Heubusch says he believes visitors will leave with a better appreciation of President Reagan’s legacy.
“He was really one of the most remarkable presidents in modern American history and I think people will come away with fully believing and knowing that,” said Heubusch.