YORBA LINDA – Selfie stops and floor-to-ceiling graphics propel President Richard Nixon’s triumphs and defeats into the modern world of museum displays, telling a more complete story of his life and legacy at his overhauled presidential library in Orange County.
Thousands are expected Friday at the unveiling of the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum’s $15 million renovation. A project that took its aged and staid galleries down to the studs, replacing them with nearly 70 new exhibits tapping the library’s vast archives of presidential documents and artifacts, uses cutting-edge technology to engage even the youngest of visitors or those who know little more than Watergate.
Michael Ellzey, director of the museum since 2014, said the focus of the redesign was to create a balanced and compelling look at Nixon’s presidency, his 50-year career in public service and the complicated story of his life.
“Although largely overshadowed by Watergate, which is presented extensively in the new museum, President Nixon’s accomplishments were consequential,” Ellzey said. “The visitor is invited routinely throughout the gallery experience to learn about the policies of the Nixon presidency and to compare the administration’s agenda and its forward-thinking initiatives to today’s world.”
The National Archives and Records Administration hired four independent historians to ensure the historical accuracy of the exhibits.
“The significance of that is that you will find both sides of every argument here … not just the president’s view,” said Bill Baribault, president of the Richard Nixon Foundation, which raised the money for the redesign. “This library is not to be a shrine. It’s to tell the complete story.”