Former President Barack Obama’s official presidential center will include a museum, an event space, a recording studio, and an athletic center, but no research library, The New York Times reports.
“Presidential libraries have opened windows onto how our democracy worked — or failed — at the highest levels,” said Princeton historian Julian E. Zelizer.
The Obama Presidential Center is planned as a “working center for citizenship,” with four buildings spread across 19 acres in Chicago. It will include a museum that will be run by his Obama Foundation, which also will pay to digitize about 30 million pages of unclassified documents from his presidency, rather than making them physically available in the library.
The former head of the Nixon library, Timothy Naftali, said that letting Obama’s foundation run the presidential museum is “a huge mistake,” adding, “it was astounding to me that a good presidency would do this.”
“It opens the door to a truly terrible Trump library,” he said.
“They are creating a fog and confusing the public and the broader historical community about what this thing actually is,” said Bob Clark, the former director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.
However, Anthony Clark, who wrote a recent book about presidential libraries, hailed the decision. He told the Times that now the National Archives “will not be saddled, as it is at the federal presidential libraries of Mr. Obama’s 13 immediate predecessors, with the expense and embarrassment of hosting troublingly politicized exhibits, speakers, events and educational programs.”
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