I have been fortunate to visit a number of Presidential Libraries or properties over time. Prior to coming to Little Rock I had read about the Clinton Library and the collections it housed but I had no idea how incredible it was. This post will take you through a few photos and comments but it won't due justice to the vast array of materials that it houses.
If you are at all interested - make a special trip. It will not only awe you but it may bring back some very interesting memories.
To start - and here is a BK Travel Tip: I did what we in our family call the "Disney Dash". While in college our daughter spent a summer in DisneyWorld working in their internshp program. She explained to us that when people enter the park they are usually so overwhelmed that they start at the entrance and work their way back through the park. The "Disney Dash" is to go to the back and work your way forward. You have a better chance of seeing some things before the huge crowds reach you - although you will cross paths at some point. It also give you an idea of what you might want to go back and see again. So here is the tip ....... go to the top floor first and work your way down.
The library has three floors with the first and second housing the vast collections. The third floor holds a replica of the Oval Office as it was during Clinton's Presidency. I headed to the third floor first and was the only visitor there for quite awhile. The volunteer docent gave me a private tour and explanation of what many of the objects in the office meant to President Clinton. It was fabulous.
For example: the desk is a copy of the Resolute Desk that sits in the White House. Where the eagle crest is - is the secret door where that famous picture of young John F Kennedy Jr. sat under the desk. . You are even able to sit in the "President's Chair" and have your picture taken if you want. The attention to detail is amazing. There is a plaque from Queen Victoria explaining how the desk came about and what it's counterpart means which by the way is NOT actually in Buckingham Palace (contrary to popular belief). It is in the Royal Navy Museum in England.
As I mentioned, the attention to detail is astounding including the ceiling which has the eagle crest in relief at the center surrounded not by stars but by Oak Leaf Clusters...another reference to the past.
If you notice the crest on the left has the Eagle looking right facing his talon clutching arrows. The crest on the right has the Eagle facing left and looking over the olive branch - a sign of peace. There was a story propagated that during times of peace the eagle looks left but during times of war the carpet is switched out and the eagle takes on the left looking position. The truth is that prior to 1945 the official crest was the one on the left....eagle looking over the arrows - signs of war - but Truman changed it that year so that ever since the eagle has stood - looking to peace.
On the second floor you find stacks of Blue Boxes aligned in cabinets that were designed to look similar to the library at Trinity College in Dublin. It is impressive in that each Blue Box contains some type of correspondence or request made to the President and his Administration during their eight years in office.
On the first floor in the center aisle you will see every year of the Clinton's Presidency as illustrated by a timeline that depicts the events and significant legislation that was passed. Housed in the lower right hand corner are metal binders. One for each month of the year. They have the President's Schedule copied - on a day by day and often minute by minute basis so that you could see the demands and details of daily life of the President. It was fascinating to actually realize how overwhelming the job and responsibilities are......and you think you are busy.
The wonder of the library isn't all about the time of the presidency. There are personal items from the time "Billy" and Hillary were growing up and a look into there lives before the Clinton years. Interesting to think about them as kids too. Matter of fact there is a letter from Hillary talking about what she wants to be when she grows up...either a teacher or a nuclear science physicist.
BONUS: I was also very fortunate to visit at the time that I did. Only a couple of days earlier a new exhibit had opened. It is about how music has not only influenced the president's and presidential campaigns but how deeply it affects our personal lives as well from a political viewpoint.
The exhibit is a tremendous bonus with an amazing story to tell. Iconoclastic items donated to reinforce and help us remember how music and artists have a substantial place in our American journey.
No matter what political or none political affiliation you are it will bring back memories of a not too distant past. If you like visiting artifacts of Presidential terms and a glimpse into their professional lives and also enjoy learning about their personal lives too - this library is a must-see.
BK Travel Tips
To enjoy travel and see the world and often yourself as if for the first time and with with the eyes of a young child.