Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Trip to the Library

Not just my local library (which I love to visit).  This was a trip to a Presidential Library. The William J. Clinton Presidential Library, to be specific, in Little Rock, Arkansas. Whatever your political views, you must appreciate history; and this is history we lived.

It's actually not like a public library, but an archive and is under the direction of the National Archives. The amount of documents, emails, videos, gifts, etc. stored here is staggering and this is just one of 13 Presidential Libraries. The GWB facility opens May 1st in Dallas.

The building reminds me of an "ark" from the movie 2012, but it's actually designed to represent the "Bridge to the 21st Century" that he talked about in one of the inaugurations. It's built next to a very old bridge which represents the past.

I love bridge architecture and was thrilled to be able to explore and photograph this bridge (more pix later). It's been restored and made into a bike/walking path across the Arkansas River.

Let's go inside...I have just a few pictures that represent a little bit of what we saw. No flash allowed but I think the light was adequate. (note: I copy my pix for the blog at a medium resolution so they'll upload faster. Otherwise, it takes a very long time!)

After going through screening, just like the airport, the first thing you see is the president's limo. The display is accompanied by photos & info about the history of the Secret Service and presidential limos thru the years.

Next are rows and rows of archival boxes, two stories high. I don't remember how many thousands of documents are collected here. Actually I wondered if they really contained authentic documents or just represented papers that were stored elsewhere; but the guides gave the impression it was real.

In between the columns are alcoves that each focused on a specific period of time with video, photos, newspaper clippings, etc. Of course the most interesting one was about the investigations into Whitewater, Monica, & the impeachment hearings. (No blue dress on display, though.)

From upstairs, this is the view looking towards the back of the ark, er, library, to the river. The old bridge would be to the left.

Here is a representation of the Cabinet Room. The Prez sits in the middle, in front of the flags. You can sit in the chair & have your picture taken.

There's a full scale recreation of the Oval Office. I really enjoyed seeing both these rooms.

I noticed this week that the current Prez has different colored drapes and a very clean desk. Bill had lots of clutter on his. There are two cozy looking sofas in the room. It's a rather small room, but warm & comfortable. It's interesting to now see pictures of this room in the news and recognize paintings & statues that were there in the Clinton administration. They must be part of the permanent decor.

Here is a replica of "The Desk" which had a fascinating history even before The Intern & The Prez added their own chapter to the tale.

There was a table set to show what a State Dinner might look like and various menus on display.

There was a long wall display of gifts presented to the president & first lady by heads of state and the American people. Some really beautiful objects and some very whimsical.

There was a timeline highlighting the achievements of the administration. Notebooks you could open and read the president's daily agenda (every minute planned out, ugh!). Letters from famous people & celebrities like Elton John. Hundreds of photographs & video clips.

We spent about 3 hours and that was just skimming the display texts. I just posted a few of my favorite highlights. Next up will be more of the bridge and some shots of a Dale Chihuly sculpture.