The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library
Simi Valley, Calif. / Opened Nov. 4, 1991 / Reagan was in office from 1981 to 1989.
Before he became president, Reagan found fame and fortune as an actor. Accordingly, his library and museum incorporate his theatrical days into one of the exhibits. A recent $15 million museum renovation enhanced the Hollywood element, allowing visitors to interact with Reagan’s old film sets and giving the facility a dramatic edge. www.reaganfoundation.org
George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
College Station, Texas / Opened Nov. 7, 1997 / Bush was in office from 1989 to 1993.
Bush’s complex is at Texas A&M University, which is home to fascinating exhibits, millions of documents, and numerous artifacts and gifts. What sets this presidential institution apart is its classroom, which can be used by groups of students in a conventional manner or to view its distance education programs. Besides this first-of-its-kind feature, the library and museum also house a World War II plane similar to the one Bush piloted, as well as a piece of the Berlin Wall.
William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum
Little Rock, Ark. / Dedicated Nov. 18, 2004 / Clinton was in office from 1993 to 2001.
Clinton’s complex is green. It’s the only presidential library — as well as, at the time of designation, one of 30 buildings worldwide and the first federal building — to earn the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) platinum rating, signifying it as one of the most environmentally friendly and energy-efficient sites in which to work. It opened with a silver LEED New Construction rating, but recent improvements pushed it to platinum level. www.clintonlibrary.gov
George W. Bush Presidential Center
Lewisville, Texas (temporary location, not open to the public); will move to Dallas for an opening in 2013 / Bush was in office from 2001 to 2009. America’s most recent ex-president, Bush has a library that is temporarily located in the Dallas suburb of Lewisville. It will move to its permanent home at Southern Methodist University in 2013.
Christiana Nielson is a former intern for American Way. She is currently a senior studying magazine journalism at the University of Missouri.