|Chapel Hill | Elephant Seals | Getty Museum | Los Alamos | Mussell Fort | Paddock Zoo | Parkfield | Reagan Library | Santa Barbara Fireworks | Santa Barbara Zoo | Rocket Twilight Launch | VAFB Air Show | Whale Watching | Wildflower Tour|
Note: If you wish to send E-mail to the Reagan's please use
the library memorial site:
Sitting atop a hill on the outskirts of Simi Valley in Southern California is the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. To the east (from the front of the library) one sees the hills around Simi Valley.
Take a good look now. As you drive up to the library you will note that housing development is crawling up the hill and, in a few years, the view you see here may be more houses than fields.
|The library is typical western architecture; low and spread out with an open feel. A courtyard with fountain invites you into the main reception area. On the right is the museum and public area; on the left is the actual library, foundation, and storage areas (you need an appointment and reason to visit these areas).||
Mr. Reagan, in bronze, greets you as you enter the building.
||But, as you enter the building your eyes are immediately drawn to the back terrace where sits an actual section of the infamous Berlin Wall. Most visitors head there first and then backtrack into the museum. The wall section is 3.5 x 10 feet and weighs in at around 6,000 pounds. You can get some idea of the freedoms involved when you note that the West Berlin side is brightly painted while the East Berlin side is basically plain concrete!||
While on the back terrace, be certain to take in the view that, on a clear day, extends all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
The museum itself has both fixed and rotating exhibits. As you enter, you come into an area that changes over time. On my visit the opening area theme was "Exquisite Diplomacy: Gifts of Fine Jewelry during the Reagan Years." Various items of jewelry such as this lapis lazuli elephant or gold belt buckle were on display.
After the entry, the main portion of the museum is in a large "U" shape. It starts with another rotating exhibit area where there is also a theater showing a short film of Mr. Reagan's life (worth seeing). "Cast for a President: Sculpture from the Reagan Library Collection" was showing during my visit.
|"Friends of Freedom," a bronze on petrified wood from
1984 greeted everyone coming into the room. There were many more,
including this fascinating sculpture of President Reagan made
from silver attached to a quartz crystal, where the crystal actually
makes up parts of the horse and saddle (1986).
From this room one enters the more-or-less fixed portion of the exhibit. It starts with Mr. Reagan's early life, proceeds through his show business career, goes onward to show the start of his political life to the governorship of California and then onward to his presidential election. These pictures show Mr. Reagan's family, a painting of his original home in Illinois and a display showing furniture of the era. When children are asked what they did in the evening and learn it was "reading and talking" they seem quite surprised!
A major portion of the lower "U" covers Mr. Reagan's terms of office to include, at the base of the "U", a full-sized replica of the oval office as it existed during his presidency (the chair is the real chair he used as both governor and president).
On the backside of the "U" aspects of the White House and Nancy Reagan are examined. How a state dinner is run is one example exhibit and even the various place settings displayed. For example, dinner begins with soup. The soup bowl is placed on a stand on the serving plate (1). Second course is fish. A cocktail cup is available for sauce and the fish plate is smaller than a dinner plate (2). The main course is meat of fowl with an assortment of vegetables (3). A salad course consists of a salad bowl resting on another plate (4). Dessert comes on a dessert plate with a demitasse cup for beverage (5).
The exhibits end with various personal items and an interactive show where you can control video clips.
|Finally, Mr. Reagan smiles a good-bye as you finish your visit.|
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Copyright © 2002 Tom Simondi, All Rights Reserved