Thursday, February 20, 2014

What City Will Get the Barack Obama Presidential Library?

Bill Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock
Honolulu, New York, and Chicago are all in the mix.  A foundation has been formed to "manage the library process" and an architect may have already been chosen. Witold Rybczynski, a professor of urbanism at Penn, discusses the history of presidential libraries in the New York Times and suggests that Obama should "go small" by simply donating his papers to the National Archives.  Here is a taste:

But where the library is situated or who designs it is less important than whether Mr. Obama will follow the grandiose example of his predecessors, or chart a new course

A presidential library is an archive, museum and shrine, rolled into one. The archive preserves presidential papers (which are the property of the government) for the benefit of future scholars. The museum contains educational exhibits. The shrine is represented by displays of personal mementos: the Bible on which Harry S. Truman took his oath of office, the extra-long sofa from Lyndon B. Johnson’s Senate office, Gerald R. Ford’s college football trophies. A centerpiece of the Kennedy Library, on Boston Harbor, is his sailboat, the Victura. The Eisenhower and Nixon libraries include the presidents’ boyhood homes. The sprawling Reagan Library houses the largest of all presidential artifacts: Air Force One.