October 22, 2019

What’s a Presidential Library to Do?

What’s a Presidential Library to Do?

When Republicans gathered at the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum here for the presidential debate last week, the backdrop was an overhauled exhibition on the Reagan presidency, done under the watchful eye of Nancy Reagan. It is intended, in part, to be a more complete depiction of the Reagan presidency, replacing one that many had seen as a bit too worshipful and airbrushed.

But another exhibition that just opened at yet another presidential museum not far away — the Watergate installation at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda — has offered a stark challenge to the Reagan tribute here, exposing both the different ways that these two museums have chosen to remember their subjects and the different positions that the two former presidents hold in the nation’s and the Republican Party’s memory.

“The Reagan library is the way presidential libraries have been in the past,” said Jon Wiener, a history professor at the University of California, Irvine. “The Nixon library represents the new kind of museum that presents more of an historic view, warts and all.”

Source: New York Times

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