Last week, our partners at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY began their “100 Days” Countdown to the opening of their new permanent exhibits on June 30. This is the culmination of a full-scale renovation that began in May 2010, and the exhibits, which will bring the Roosevelt presidency to life through an interactive and immersive audio-visual experience, will be well worth the wait. Library Director Lynn Bassanese and Roosevelt Institute President and CEO Felicia Wong joined the WAMC Roundtable to mark the occasion and explain how the revamped Library will bring the New Deal to a New Generation.
Lynn notes that June 30 was chosen for the rededication “because on June 30, 1941, FDR opened his presidential library and museum for the first time to the public.” She promises that “visitors will see a whole new museum,” but one that maintains the vision and spirit of the library as designed by FDR himself. “The legacy of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt has never been so relevant as it is today,” she says, “but there are fewer and fewer people who actually remember” them. A wide range of new exhibits will allow visitors to listen to Fireside Chats in an authentic 1930s kitchen or recreate FDR’s secret White House map room, providing “access to that essential evidence that people need to understand what the Roosevelts did.”
Felicia explains that the Roosevelt Institute supports the federally funded Library with additional resources for public outreach and education — in this case, funding for the new exhibits. “Everybody loves FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt,” Felicia says, “so in that sense, helping people to re-remember their importance to our culture today — as Lynn often says, FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt built the world that we live in today — the social contract that we still enjoy, the role that government plays, that’s something that Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt really ushered in in the early part of the 20th century, so as long as we can remind people of that and remind them of the heroism that they embody, it’s not that hard a sell.”
Follow along with the countdown on Twitter with hashtag #NewDealNewGen, and mark your calendars for June 30.
Countdown from 100 image via Shutterstock.com.