|Above, four presidents and first ladies at the July 1990 opening day of the Nixon Library.|
It was a hot summer day in 1990 when the Richard Nixon Library and Museum opened. Presidents George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford and the guest of honor, Richard Nixon, attended with 50,000 ordinary people, including myself.
Now, 26 years later, the Library is undergoing a renovation and is set to reveal the new galleries and exhibits in October.
The Los Angeles Times wrote:
When the Richard Nixon Presidential Library first opened 26 years ago, it was dismissed by many historians as more of a whitewash than a faithful retelling of his presidency.
For years, the museum’s Watergate exhibit, approved by Nixon himself, depicted the scandal as a “coup” orchestrated by Nixon enemies and unethical journalists. Historian and Nixon scholar Stanley Kutler once called the library just “another Southern California theme park” whose reality level was “slightly better than Disneyland.”
But in 2007, when the library finally entered the official presidential library system under the auspices of the National Archives, the exhibit was torn down and eventually replaced with a much more critical version. The museum’s heavily edited rendition of the “smoking gun” tape that implicated Nixon was replaced with the full recording, and the new exhibit placed the Watergate episode in the context of a larger campaign of presidential secrecy and sabotage.
Now a $15-million renovation focuses on the rest of the museum’s decades-old galleries, set to reopen in October, with the aim of building an unflinching but well-rounded portrait of a complicated man whose long career has often been overshadowed by his quick and stunning fall from grace.I am looking forward to visiting the Nixon Library. It has been several years since I was last there. I had worked in the Nixon re-election campaign in 1972 and saw President Nixon at the Century Plaza that year.
|Above, President and Mrs. Nixon greet a crowd of supporters at the Century Plaza Hotel. I am at the arrow.|
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