Thousands gathered at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda on Friday, Oct. 14, to celebrate its re-opening.
The celebrations began with an opening ceremony starting at 11 a.m. Special guests included President Nixon’s daughter Tricia Cox, his grandchildren Christopher Nixon Cox, Melanie Eisenhower, and his youngest brother Ed Nixon.
Other guests were former Secretary of State to Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Governor Pete Wilson, along with other dignitaries to share in the excitement and anticipation with the audience.
A musical tribute by the USC Trojan Marching band started the ceremony, and following, a vocalist singing the Star Spangled Banner.
Tricia Cox, President Nixon’s eldest daughter, gave a speech thanking the audience for sharing the opportunity of seeing her father’s legacy once again brought to life. A WWII C-53 Skytrooper plane that flew on D-day made a commemorative flyover during the ceremony.
To conclude the ceremony, the special guests gathered on stage in a line to cut the ribbon for the grand opening, as confetti showered the audience.
Following the morning celebration, was a luncheon for guests by invite only, including a special keynote by Kissinger.
The New Nixon Library contains 70 prominent exhibits, including 12 customizable interactive displays and 30 other vital multimedia additions. In a section titled “Tough Choices” guests can make important decisions President Nixon was faced with. With 8,000 square footage, there are over 600 photographs and over 300 artifacts available for viewing.
The exhibits start with the 1960’s, showcasing Martin Luther King’s movement and Selma. Visitors will weave into all time frames of his presidency, including his well-known foreign policy, domestic policies, affirmative action policies, and his involvement in all of the Apollo Moon Landings. The extensive Watergate exhibit has also returned to the galleries. The museum galleries conclude with his early childhood and career, with numerous artifacts and family photographs.
Placed in the middle of the room of foreign and domestic policy, lies a special exhibit all about former First Lady and Fullerton College alumna Patricia Nixon. Mrs. Nixon attended Fullerton College from 1931-1932 and starred in the college’s production of the Broadway play “Broken Dishes”.
Guests can now use interactive displays to view photographs and more of the First Lady. Her red dress worn on the historic trip to China and a few pairs of her colorful shoes are also available to see.
A major addition to the library is an exact replica of President Nixon’s Oval Office for guests to not only see, but to also step inside.
The Nixon/China exhibit that made its debut at the South Coast Plaza this past summer, is also a major addition to the new library.
A member of the docent guild at the Nixon Library, Vic Dennis, describes how important this enhanced exhibit is to the remastering of the museum.
The exhibit features the eight day trip to China in February 1972 and just as importantly was the announcement in 1971 on live television by President Nixon, when he told the world that he was going to be “making the trip to China,” says Dennis. “It was so shocking to the world that Richard Nixon, of all presidents who was so anti-communist, would be the one to open diplomatic relations with China. To actually see the statues of Richard Nixon and Zhou Enlai is bringing the moment of the handshake to life. This is the ‘week that changed the world’.”
Aside from that, Nixon’s favorite room in the White House, the Lincoln sitting room, still remains a vital exhibit at the newly designed library. Former Nixon writer and historian, Frank Gannon, shares that this is his favorite exhibit of them all.
“I think that the heart and soul of the library is the Lincoln sitting room. Nixon’s one request when the library was being planned, was that it include a replica of this room,” Gannon said. “It’s where he thought and wrote and studied, and he said that he drew strength just from being in his place where Lincoln had been.”
Visitors can now experience a 15-minute, emotionally captivating film on Nixon before entering the new exhibits, or at any time they wish during their visit.
Nixon’s birthplace, burial site, and Marine One, along with the beautiful gardens cherished by the First Lady, are still available to see.
After 26 years, the Richard Nixon Presidential Library has made its comeback, delivering us the nostalgia of the past, while reflecting on the hardships that went with it. With multimedia tools, we can now acquire a better understanding of how Nixon’s foreign and domestic policy strategies have affected, affect, and will continue to affect our days to come.
To learn more about the 37th president, visit the New Nixon Library, and attend upcoming events, visit this website.
Visit here to learn more about the National Archives of the New Nixon Library.