Roosevelt Museum Revitalized
Alexander Heffner is a writer in Providence, R.I.
Since June 1941, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt presented his home as a gift to the American people, Hyde Park has stood as the first presidential library and museum. Now, this most senior of our presidential libraries is also the freshest. After a three-year renovation, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum has unveiled a redesigned permanent exhibition, an expansion to 12,000 from 8,000 square feet that reinvigorates Roosevelt's legacy for visitors.
The curators behind the new library have corrected these problems. (Happily left in place, however, is Roosevelt's home study, just where it was in his Hyde Park days.) The meticulously mapped redesign has a sound chronological sequence of exhibits, employing dynamic colors and original photos that are enlarged and turned into panels of disparate sizes and shapes. All of the presidential memorabilia and historical documents remain on display.
Roosevelt's birthplace, an estate that commands beautiful views of the Hudson and of Dutchess County's pastoral countryside, is a constant reminder of his privileged upbringing. But upon entering the revamped library, class distinctions are left behind in favor of a united America. A first luminous wall of letters to President Roosevelt, bordering a photo of a smiling, sanguine commander in chief, gives voice to Americans of the era....
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