Inside Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, Little Rock, Arkansas

Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, Little Rock, Arkansas

Now, let’s get this straight right off the bat:  this post has nothing to do with candidates we are or are not endorsing for President.  It’s merely a glimpse inside a structure that we visited en route to a wedding in Houston, Texas, with a stopover in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Taking the circuitous route from Knoxville to Houston via Little Rock, AR and College Station, TX (and a few other places along the way)!

Taking the circuitous route from Knoxville to Houston via Little Rock, AR and College Station, TX (and a few other places along the way)!

And, to be fair, we’ll be sharing another post  (Inside George Bush Presidential Library) since College Station, Texas, was another stop along the way to our Houston wedding.  Lucky us — two presidential libraries, one big road trip!

We have to admit — we weren’t sure we’d like the architecture of the Clinton Library.  After all, we’d seen pictures of the freight car shape with its cold, gray modern exterior. It just wasn’t something we thought was . . . well, presidential. But once inside, we got it. The building, situated perpendicular to the Arkansas River, affords views of the landscape from its expansive windows that put you front and center with the landscape and pays tribute to America’s heartland.

Clinton Presidential Library facing perpendicular to the Arkansas River in Little Rock.

Clinton Presidential Library facing perpendicular to the Arkansas River in Little Rock.

And what else helped?  Immersing ourselves in the timelines (eight sections, one for each year) with their artfully arranged archives . . .

Timelines line up on the first floor housing artifacts focusing on themes of the Clinton administration.

Timelines line up on the first floor housing artifacts arranged by priorities of the Clinton administration.

and taking in another favorite — the well-appointed, only-one-in-existence, exact replica of the Oval Office (no photos allowed).  Marvelous, to say the least.

Add to that the fun of a day dedicated to Dr. Seuss and seeing groups of school children (Loved this.  I’m a teacher, remember?) eager to take a field trip anywhere, but especially to a place this regal.  This day had all the makings of a memory waiting to happen in Little Rock!

Now look who just showed up in Little Rock when we did!

Now look who showed up in Little Rock when we did!

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Bert and I are avid readers in museums.  Our legs give out before our minds do — simply because we stand around and read posters, captions, historical materials, anything . . . longer than most people who enter a museum alongside of us do.  But reading/learning is what we love. The Clinton Library‘s timelines grabbed us immediately: artfully arranged photos, newspaper clippings, etc., with info about Clinton’s initiatives brought back memories since we’ve lived through the Clinton eras and major programs like restoring the economy, advancing science and technology, and making communities safer. On top of that, no docent had to point out the nearly 5,000 blue boxes of presidential archives housed in floor-to-ceiling columns.  They were pretty visible on their own.

Bert's taking a long look at all that paper -- almost 5,000 boxes of archives in floor-to-ceiling columns.

Bert’s taking a long look at all that paper — almost 5,000 boxes of archives in floor-to-ceiling columns.

 

I left Bert immersed in the timelines and the boxes so I could go upstairs to view the gifts bestowed on Bill and Hillary, gifts from heads of state all over the world as well as from ordinary citizens tagged with dates and names of donors.

Gifts from around the world to Bill & Hillary Clinton line the upstairs walls of the Clinton Presidential Library.

Gifts from around the world to Bill & Hillary Clinton line the upstairs walls of the Clinton Presidential Library. (Photo courtesy of clintonfoundation.org.)

And when Bert finally joined me upstairs, we stood a while by the presidential table setting featuring fine linens, china, and crystal, wondering how it would feel to dine with the First Family in the White House (and doubting our table manners would be up to snuff).

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Nothing, however, caught our attention quite like the Dale Chihuly piece on the second floor, not just because Chihuly’s work is unparalleled in the medium of glass but also because this is just stunning on so many levels.

Wispy airiness of a Chihuly sculpture!

Wispy airiness of a Chihuly sculpture!

Near this sculpture, a sign explained something else about the architecture of the Clinton Center:  The hallway resembles the Long Room in the Old Library of Trinity College Dublin.  And you know what?  It really does have a similar sense of space.

Dominating the long hall of the second floor are the graceful curves of a sculpture by artist Dale Chihuly.

Dominating the long hall of the second floor are the graceful curves of a sculpture by artist Dale Chihuly.

Floor to ceiling windows offer a glimpse on one side to the 1899 Rock Island Railroad Bridge across the Arkansas River connecting to North Little Rock.

 

A view of the rock Island Railroad Bridge from the Clinton Presidential Library

A view of the rock Island Railroad Bridge from the Clinton Presidential Library

And a panorama of the city can be viewed from windows on another side — along the front of the building. One volunteer told us that the Clintons have a private residence on the top floor of the library/museum that is understandably not open to the public.

View of Little Rock from Clinton Presidential Library

View of Little Rock from Clinton Presidential Library

The video chronicling Bill Clinton‘s childhood, collegiate years, work and pathway to the highest office in the nation brought back memories since we are contemporaries.  But we found most fascinating the footage of Hillary, now running for the highest office herself,  in her younger years when she met, dated, and married Bill.  And information about her own causes — health insurance for all, adoption and foster care of children, women’s rights — reminded us that First Ladies are leaders in their own right.

Reflecting pool and pedestrian bridge at Clinton Presidential Library

Reflecting pool and pedestrian bridge at Clinton Presidential Library

And so it was that the Clinton Presidential Center became the first of many presidential libraries we hope to visit.  If this is any indication of what the others hold, we can truthfully say that every attempt is made to collect artifacts, quotes, and visuals that visitors would want to see and to house them in a way that anyone can learn more about a President and his or her years in office.

Now, of course, we have another question:  if Hillary is elected in November, will there be a whole new library when her term has ended, or will there be an addition to this one?  And what will Bill, the First Husband (First Gentleman?) take on as causes?  Good questions, we think.  Any answers?  Or if you’ve visited the Clinton Presidential Center, what were your takeaways?

For more information:

Clinton Presidential Library, 1200 President Clinton Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72201; 501.374.4242. www.clintonlibrary.gov
Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a. m. to 5 p. m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.

 

 

About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
This entry was posted in Arkansas, Boomer Travel, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Inside Clinton Presidential Library

  1. Kevin Brent says:

    Did the bridge being there have anything to do with that site being chosen for the library, or was that a coincidence?

  2. Thank you, that was fascinating.

    • Thank YOU for taking a look. Some people won’t visit a presidential library if it’s honoring a president of a party they don’t belong to. We think it’s important to check out all the places funded by the government and others simply because there’s so much to learn! Fascinating, you bet!

  3. Leslie says:

    I have an aspiration to visit presidential museums and libraries so this post is good encouragement for me. Your comments about your legs giving out before your minds do made me chuckle because I get it! – Museums have lots of stuff to read! I often wonder how visual and tactile learners fare in some museum environments. Anyway, I enjoyed this post🙂

  4. jessicadrefs says:

    Wow amazing post! Great pictures, thanks for sharing!

  5. It looks pretty impressive regardless of party affiliation. 🙂

  6. tappjeanne says:

    Amazing to think all that happened related to the Presidency in the span of 8 years!

  7. HesterLeyNel says:

    Great post. Great to be able to honour and commemorate the leaders of the past in such a way.

    • I feel the same way about the honor and commemoration. No matter what party someone is, he/she can find something to admire about the collections, displays, etc. in both of the libraries we visited. Thanks for commenting!

  8. Haha I can’t help but wonder what the Trump library would look like. Full of books he never read……or wrote? Thanks for taking us along, this was beautifully photographed and covered. ❤️

  9. Touring NH says:

    What a neat place to visit!

  10. Prior-2001 says:

    fantastic post – and I agree with ralie’s comment fully – ha!love the glass art too and would like to see the Dublin place sometime – peace

  11. Kristen McBee says:

    Wonderful information and photos. Thank you for sharing!

    My thoughts: Hillary’s library will be in New York.

    • You may be right. Hadn’t really thought about it. But that tour guide told us they live above this library when in town. I guess if you have two presidents in the family, you can have two residences! 🙂

  12. Pit says:

    Those presidential libraries are a great idea. I wish my native Germany also had them.

  13. ralietravels says:

    Now, let’s get this straight right off the bat: this “like” has nothing to do with candidates and is for your post.

    • You have just the right sense of humor I was hoping for. I can tell that visiting these libraries is just as charged a topic as the election, based upon the reaction we had when we told some of our Republican friends we had been there. And then the same happened when we went to the Bush library and told our Democratic friends. Ah, politics! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

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