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2013 was an amazing year for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.
The three year renovation of the Library building was finished in March. We moved the archival collections, research operations, and archival staff offices back into the renovated Library from the Wallace Visitor Center where they have been located since summer 2010. In April, we brought 164 pallets of additional materials back to Hyde Park from the George W. Bush Library warehouse in Texas where they were housed during our renovation. Our 35,000 museum objects were safely tucked into their new museum storage rooms and our museum staff moved for the final time into their new office spaces. Throughout the entire renovation process, the Roosevelt Library never closed its research room to researchers and always made sure our visitors had exhibits to see.
We completed work on the final design, fabrication, and installation of the Roosevelt Library’s new 12,000 square foot permanent museum exhibition. In addition, we developed a system of directional signage for the new exhibits and moved all of the original furnishing from FDR’s Study back into place prior to the reopening of the new galleries. The Library’s new permanent exhibition opened to great critical acclaim on June 30, 2013 and Museum visitation since the opening date has risen dramatically. All of our renovation work and our exhibit development and installation were on time and on budget.
We also celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center on November 15th. Before we had this wonderful building, we sold tickets out of a shack, we hid our Museum Store in the Library basement, and we had no space for Education and Public Programs. Through an amazing partnership of federal funds and private money raised by the Roosevelt Institute, we took an empty piece of land and built an amazingly versatile and beautiful building. As we built this, we promised the community that it would become a part of their lives. And I am happy to report we have been successful in achieving that. In the past 10 years, over 100,000 people representing over 1200 organizations have used our meeting spaces, over 150,000 students have learned about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in our Multi-Purpose Rooms and over one million visitors have enjoyed the wonderful amenities, taken pictures with our Franklin and Eleanor statue, and marveled at the beautiful mosaic map in the lobby.
And on December 4th we introduced the birth of FRANKLIN. Whether you are a lover of history, a student working on a school project, or a scholar, FRANKLIN allows you to keyword search for archival documents and photographs and to search, browse, and view whole files, just as you could if you came to the Library’s research room in-person. Now available online are some of the most important documents of the twentieth century — primary source documentation of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s experiences leading the nation through the Great Depression and World War II. FRANKLIN launched with 350,000 pages of archival documents and 2,000 historical photographs.
FRANKLIN is the result of a special cooperative effort — a unique combination of public, nonprofit, education and corporate support. The Roosevelt Library and its parent agency, the National Archives, worked with nonprofit partner the Roosevelt Institute to digitize a large amount of microfilmed archival documents. The Library’s digital partner and web host, Marist College, then developed and implemented FRANKLIN’s underlying database infrastructure. Marist runs the system using powerful servers manufactured by Marist and Roosevelt Library corporate partner, IBM.
During 2013 our education department provided programming for almost 15,000 students from second grade to elderhostel, conducted more than a dozen teacher workshops, for over 400 teachers including week-long workshops for teachers from New Orleans and Missouri. We expanded our Distance Learning Program (video conferencing) conducting over two dozen sessions, for more than 500 students and 50 teachers. Paramount to our education efforts was the recreating of education programs and materials for the new museum galleries. We created a 16 page Fala booklet to guide younger children, a New Deal and WWII focused guided note taking tour of the exhibits, and a series of civic holiday activity sheets for young museum visitors.
The Roosevelt Library developed, promoted, and implemented a full calendar of public programs in 2013 including individual book talks, film presentations in partnership with the Pare Lorentz Center at the FDR Presidential Library, and a series of popular annual events including our tenth annual Roosevelt Reading Festival. For two weeks in August, through the generosity of Mount Vernon, we hosted an exhibit featuring President George Washington’s personal copy of the Constitution, “Acts of Congress.”
And all throughout the year the Library produced exciting and innovative social media and web feature content to celebrate our accomplishments and inform our audiences worldwide. Particularly successful was our 100 Days countdown to the grand reopening of our museum which resulted in an extraordinary increase in social media followers – most notably almost 50,000 new followers on Tumblr.
None of our successes would be possible without the creative and energetic Roosevelt Library staff, the support of our National Archives family, the dedication of the Library Trustees, the generosity of the Roosevelt Institute, and the interest and support of our visitors, social media friends and followers. We look forward to sharing a happy, healthy, and peaceful 2014 with you.
I think FDR would have been pleased with the way we rededicated his Library this past week. It was a gathering of friends and neighbors; short speeches spoken from the heart; and a masterful storyteller, Geoffrey Ward, delighting the crowd with the story of how President Roosevelt planned and built the simple fieldstone building which houses his papers and all of his wonderful things. We let everyone in free on opening day following the example FDR set on June 30, 1941 when he opened the museum for the very first time.
By all reports, our new museum has been very well received although a common complaint has emerged – there is just not enough time to see everything!!! So when you plan your visit make sure you leave lots of time to see our amazing new exhibits. Hope to see you soon.
“It seems to me that the dedication of a library is in itself
an act of faith.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Hyde Park, June 30, 1941
On Sunday June 30th, the FDR Library was rededicated after the completion of a three year renovation of the library building. The rededication weekend included the unveiling of new museum exhibits.
The new museum galleries will feature two immersive Fireside Chat Environments. Each of these environments will have a radio and period furnishings, inviting visitors to sit and listen. After the Chat audio concludes, visitors can hear readings of actual letters — representing a variety of opinions — giving the visitor a chance to hear how Americans felt about the president’s leadership during the Depression and World War II.
The installation of the new exhibits is continuing at a very quick pace! Here are some of the latest things things to be installed.
The installation of the new museum exhibits has started! Here are some photos of what has been done so far.