Advancements in technology and information access have allowed us to dig even deeper into our past and broaden our perspectives like never before. That’s the idea behind the New Richard Nixon Presidential Library, which is holding its grand opening in Yorba Linda today, an event that I was pleased to take part in as the chairman of the Nixon Centennial Legacy Campaign.
Our presidents tend to be painted in broad strokes, and are generally “known” for a handful of accomplishments or associated with major events in our country’s history. Certainly, most people think of Watergate when they think of Nixon, given its significant impact on American culture. Scratching the surface, however, reveals a man that ascended from modest means to Congress, the Vice Presidency, and ultimately to become our 37th President.
This is an opportunity to take a fresh and new look at Richard Nixon. Many young people today remember Watergate and China, but they don’t know much else about his presidency.
18 year olds, for example, can thank Nixon for their right to vote and the elimination of the military draft. Mothers and fathers can also be proud to know that because of Title IX, signed by Nixon in 1972, their daughters receive an equal opportunity to play collegiate sports.
People of all political stripes might be shocked to know that it was under a Republican administration that the Environmental Protection Agency was formed, proposed by Nixon through executive order.
By today’s standards, Nixon would likely fall onto the moderate spectrum on domestic policy and on the realist side in terms of foreign policy, perhaps putting him somewhere in the middle of the current GOP.
Above all else, however, Nixon was a man of ideas, and the New Nixon Presidential Library will allow Americans to explore those ideas, assess his legacy, and perhaps walk away with a new and broader perspective of the man and his accomplishments.
The Fred and Marlene Malek Theatre will be one of the first stops for guests visiting the new museum. Some of the other exciting features are 70 new major exhibits, including an exact replica of President Nixon’s Oval Office and an extensive exhibit on Nixon’s historic trip to China.
It will also feature 30 unique multi-media experiences, 11 original films, 12 custom digital interactives, 10 curated archival film sequences, more than 600 photographs, 8,000 square feet of wall murals and more than 300 artifacts.
I’m looking forward to catching up with some old friends this weekend at the opening, but I’m mostly looking forward to seeing the many more people that will pass through to learn more about President Richard Nixon and his legacy.
Visit here to see more about the New Richard Nixon Library and Museum.