Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Presidential Libraries

Currently there are thirteen presidential libraries sanctioned and maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration. Until last month I had only visited two of them, The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa - which I visited many years ago when my children were young (Douglas and President Hoover share the same birth date, August 10) - and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum and Library in Independence, Missouri (three times).

As of April 10, I added a third - the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park, which I have wanted to see since it opened on my birthday (November 18) in 2004. I liked the architecture of the building but did not realize it was meant to represent a bridge until visiting there. The bridge design pays homage to Clinton's 1996 acceptance speech for his party's presidential nomination where he said he would help "build a bridge to the future".

It also links the building to the nearby old Rock Island Railroad bridge - one of Little Rock's "Six Bridges Over the Arkansas River". The old bridge has been renovated and is now part of the city's pedestrian and biking trails system. Originally built in 1899 for the Choctaw and Memphis Railroad, the renovation took seven years and cost $10.5 million. It opened in October, 2011.
Note also in this picture the curved, flat fountain. There is one on each side of the main entrance to the building. I didn't even realize they were fountains until we got right up to them.

The nearby old Choctaw Route Depot now houses the Headquarters of the William J. Clinton Foundation as well as home of The University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

A few of the pictures I took inside - The Oval Office.

Table setting featuring the Lenox china commissioned by the Clintons. The plates displayed images of the White House in the center instead of the customary presidential seal.

Dale Chihuly's "Crystal Tree of Light" exhibited at the White House's Millennium Celebration. There will be an exhibit of Chihuly's art work at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock from May 17, 2014 through January 5, 2015.

I forget the details about this bike - who renovated it and gave it - or even why. I think it was supposed to represent the style of bicycle he had as a young man. I just thought it was neat.

There were more pictures, but flash wasn't allowed, so some of the ones I took didn't turn out too well. As you could see in the first picture, the exhibit on display when we were there was "Spies, Traitors, Saboteurs". It was very interesting, but dimly lit, so no pictures from it.

A free shuttle took us from the Presidential Library to the Clinton Museum Store about four blocks away in the River Market District. Bud bought a boonie hat like the one he had in Vietnam and I bought a Clinton Presidential Center postcard to send to my brother Ron - because he was such a big Clinton fan. (Not)

On our way back to the parking lot we passed this little corner park. It is hard to make out, but that is a large brass rabbit sculpture. Bud said, "Look Jean, it's another rabbit". So of course I had to try to get a shot for our "It's a rabbit, Jean. We have rabbits at home." collection of pictures.

There was a time I thought it would be fun to try and see as many Presidential Libraries as possible. Now I realize there are too many I have no desire to see - maybe the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas - but that's about the only one. I like(d) Ike - president of my childhood.

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