INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The Truman Presidential Library and Museum is set to undergo the most extensive renovation in its 62 year history. The last day the library is open to the pubic is Monday, then it closes for more than a year for the $25 million transformation.
The Truman Library opened in 1957. The retired president came to work everyday in the building and sometimes surprised guests with tours. He didn’t want an institution that testified to his legacy, but one where the next generation could learn from the past.
“We have a vision for this place much like Harry Truman as an educational institution, but these new exhibits that are coming are very important because they become a springboard into the kind of programming we can do nationally and internationally to take this legacy to the world,” Museum Director Dr. Kurt Graham said.
The Truman Library was built for less than $2 million. The $25 million in renovations might now seem a little daunting to the poor Missouri farm boy. The bulk of the money comes from foundations and fundraisers. The expansive project includes a thee-thousand foot addition with a large glass facade.
The new grand entrance to the east will re-direct the flow of visitors so the Thomas Hart Benton mural and Oval Office will culminate the tour. Immersive theaters will educate visitors on the impact of World War One and the Cold War on the Truman Presidency. A 14-foot interactive globe will explore the hard problems of peace following Truman’s decision to end the war by dropping the atomic bomb.
“One of the highlights in gonna be a projection mapping theater,” Graham said. “When you walk into it it looks like a city in bombed-out Europe. Those surfaces become projection surfaces that tell the story of the rebuilding of Europe.”
The Library will re-open in late Summer or early Fall of 2020, specifically designed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the start of Truman’s presidency.
Monday is the last day the library is open this year and admission will be free. The research room with thousands of documents from the Truman era will remain open, and the Library will continue to offer some of its educational and community programs during construction.