The Reagan Library

by Wendy VanHatten

We spent about three hours in the Reagan Museum and Library. Very well done, this museum is designed for self-guided activities. There are plenty of knowledgeable volunteers and docents on hand to answer questions.

Here are a few highlights:

Throughout the 18 galleries are highlights of President Reagan’s life as America’s 40th president. Some of his life prior to politics we knew about. Other things and events we did not. We watched short films depicting his life as a radio personality in Iowa and ones explaining his connection to General Electric Theater.

His Oval Office is recreated as a full-sized reproduction of the Oval Office as it appeared during his presidency. Even though the basic shape and architecture have changed little since the 1930s, each president makes his own changes in interior design, new carpet, and artwork.

In the Air Force One Pavilion, we walked through Air Force One, the “Flying White House” for President Reagan and six other US presidents from 1973 to 2001. We also walked through Marine One, the presidential helicopter. Included in the museum is an actual presidential Secret Service motorcade featuring President Reagan’s 1984 parade limousine.

It was interesting to see the history of Air Force One depicted in a wall mural. The mural featured aircraft from FDR’s Dixie Clipper to the current Boeing 747.

On the upper floor of the three floors is the Mezzanine Gallery, where we learned more about his face-to-face diplomacy with other world leaders. We also learned about the Secret Service and their role in protecting the president while he travels.

The section detailing the Iron Curtain and the fall of it are included in one gallery. The Iron Curtain took shape following WWII, as a profound division between communism and democracy, oppression and freedom. Pieces of the Berlin Wall can be seen here as well as events happening and leading up to the fall of the wall.

Nancy Reagan played an important part in President Reagan’s life and presidency. An entire section and galleries are devoted to her and what she did as First Lady. She was a stickler for details as she became very involved in planning all White House events, right down to the details. She was also the president’s closest confidante, staunchest defender, and took on special causes of her own. She started the campaign of “Just Say No” to combat drug use.

This is a place to visit to learn more about President Reagan and our country at the time of his presidency.

If You Go: The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is located at 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, California. Advance tickets are required as of this post, with timed entries. Masks are required throughout.