The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, has reopened after a 2-year, $29 million renovation.
This is the first major renovation in more than 20 years and the largest since the Truman Library and Museum opened its doors in 1957. Harry S. Truman became the 33rd president of the United States in 1945 after Franklin D. Roosevelt died, and he served until 1953.
Museum design and planning firm Gallagher & Associates designed the new museum in conjunction with insight and support of museum staff. Gallagher & Associates is also the designer of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans and the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.
The dynamic and interactive exhibits incorporate modern storytelling techniques, including 140 minutes of dramatic film reels and video with current-day narration depicting key moments in Truman’s life and presidency, World War II, and a post-war world.
What’s New At The Truman Library And Museum
In short, everything is new at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. The renovation was a thorough overhaul of the permanent exhibits, museum flow, and visitors’ entrance.
A 3,000-square-foot addition with a floor-to-ceiling glass facade and frosted presidential seal now greets visitors as they enter the museum lobby.
The museum’s central attraction, a permanent exhibit called “An Ordinary Man, His Extraordinary Journey,” is all new. Previously, visitors learned about the Truman presidency on one floor, then went downstairs for details of his boyhood, family life, and post-presidency life. Now, the museum flows in a user-friendly way all on one floor.
Visitors learn not only about President Truman himself (did you know he met his wife Bess at Sunday School at age 6 and that he was the only U.S. president to see combat in World War I?), but get an important history lesson of worldwide events that transpired during his time.
A new 14-foot globe helps show visitors how Truman helped a fractured world recover after World War II as he made decisions and created policy concerning the Berlin Airlift, Truman Doctrine, creation of NATO, recognition of Israel, and the desegregation of the federal government and the armed services.
Visitors now engage in an immersive experience. For example, they can assume the role of a member of a government loyalty board, questioning a suspicious federal worker during the Red Scare of the 1950s Cold War.
Visitors can follow the personal Korean War accounts of soldiers, sailors, and nurses with recently acquired artifacts, and view the letter from the father of a fallen Korean War soldier and his son’s Purple Heart that never left Truman’s personal office.
Previously, the presidential exhibition featured just a dozen or so original artifacts. Now the museum displays more than 230 original artifacts plus several hundred facsimiles of documents, letters, and handwritten materials — a major expansion.
The mural “Independence and the Opening of the West” by American painter Thomas Hart Benton, as well as the full-sized replica of the Oval Office as it looked during Truman’s presidency, still remain in the renovated museum.
Other Things To Know About The Truman Library and Museum
- General admission is $12, with discounts for seniors, students, veterans, and active members of the U.S. military.
- To adhere to COVID-19 physical distancing best practices, visitors currently need to purchase timed entry tickets here.