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an original piece of the Berlin Wall
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

40 Presidential Drive Simi Valley, CA 93065
Open 10am-5pm seven days a week
805-522-2977 Half day
January 2014 All year
$10-29 Simi Valley California
Website Educational Libraries
First review
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Center for Public Affairs opened in 1991 and is the official library and museum for Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States. The facility is located on a scenic hilltop 100 acre property. It is a huge complex with over 100,000 square feet of display space and 24 different galleries. Major attractions include a replica Oval Office, Air Force One Plane, and Reagan’s grave site. The library also has a casual restaurant, Irish style pub, and a gift shop.

The library’s dramatic and scenic location is representative of a “shining city on a hill” biblical reference that Reagan used in speeches. The largest and most prominent gallery is the Air Force One Pavilion which contains a presidential airplane, helicopter, and limousine. A gallery with images and video from Reagan’s memorial service is the most somber. There are also special rotating exhibits which typically are shown for 6 months. Examples include an excellent recent presentation on spying and an upcoming one on baseball.

The visit took place on a weekend in January, and the library was packed. If you prefer less company, aim for a weekday. An audio tour was purchased for $7 but did not provide much value or insight. The library though was impressive and offered a good overview of Reagan’s life and presidency. As with other presidential libraries, accomplishments and legacies are emphasized while controversies or shortcomings are downplayed or ignored. The library concentrates on Reagan's optimism, outreach and communication skills. There are a limited number of exhibits on policies and governance with the exception of those about the Cold War. An exhibit on American heroes was topnotch and highly memorable with interviews of decorated military veterans. Also, walking through Air Force One was a cool and distinctive experience. Even those not into politics should enjoy a visit here due to a range of exhibits, including a number of interactive ones, and the great setting. While a $16 entrance fee was on the higher side, the visitor experience and exhibit quality merited the cost.
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