Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

For Immediate Release

Contact Information:
Stacy McCullough, Sprenger McCullough & Co., 816-221-9716, mobile: 913-927-0128
Bill Musgrave, Sprenger McCullough & Co., 816-221-9716, mobile: 816-215-4658
Edeen Martin, Truman Library & Museum, 816-268-8218



October 15, 2001 - Independence, MO - Within the next month, the Truman Presidential Museum & Library is scheduled to open its new permanent exhibit on the Truman Presidency. The highly interactive exhibit completes the second phase of the museum's major renovation, which began last year. The exhibit will be opened to the public beginning November 10 so staff can evaluate and test its various components. Then, on December 9, the exhibit will be formally dedicated during a public ceremony.

The newest addition to the museum, "Harry S. Truman: The Presidential Years" chronicles the major decisions and events that unfolded during the Presidency of Harry S. Truman from 1945 to 1953. Truman's decisions set the course of American foreign and domestic policy for generations. They continue to shape American life today.

The new exhibit provides visitors with an inside look at some of the most historic and dramatic decisions of the 20th Century including the ending of World War II, the formation of NATO, the Korean Conflict and the desegregation of the armed forces. Two interactive "Decision Theaters" allow visitors to delve into controversial issues by weighing the merits of major challenges that faced President Truman and his staff.

Other aspects of the exhibit focus on Truman, his ideas, opinions and the manner in which he made decisions. Visitors can also glimpse into the social, cultural and political life of America during the years of his Presidency.

A 13-minute orientation film, produced and directed by Academy Award-Winner Charles Guggenheim and narrated by Jason Robards, begins the exhibit and chronicles Truman's life up to April 12, 1945. It traces the story of Truman's family and the events of his early life that made him sensitive to the daily struggles of ordinary Americans and shaped his behavior as President. The film ends with the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the swearing in of Truman as the new President.

State-of-the-art audio and video throughout the exhibit bring Truman's major decisions to life. The "Decision Theaters" are placed within the galleries. The first theater asks visitors to determine what types of influences most led to Truman's decision to recognize the State of Israel and to issue his executive order desegregating America's armed forces - both decisions made by President Truman in the middle of 1948. The second Decision Theater immerses visitors in the controversy surrounding Truman's decision to require Federal employees to take a "loyalty oath" and asks visitors whether a government's need for security ever supersedes a citizen's right to privacy and free speech.

The permanent exhibit features uniquely-designed displays that chronicle a most historic time in American history. The exhibit is divided into nine thematic areas:

  • The First Four Months-Covers President Truman's inauguration following the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the many critical events leading to the decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II.
  • Postwar America-A three-dimensional look at the postwar era with movie newsreels and a visual perspective on the beginning of the retail and suburban development boom in the USA.
  • The Cold War Begins-Video monitors, graphics and photographs target major postwar events such as the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift and the initial confrontation with communism and the Soviet Union.
  • The Upset of the Century-A dramatic chronology of the 1948 election won by Truman over favored Thomas Dewey, including a detailed look at the famous "Whistle Stop Campaign" undertaken by the Truman family prior to the election. More than 70 sound bites, taken from Truman "Whistle Stop" speeches across the country are available for the museum visitor.
  • The Cold War Turns Hot-Covers the beginning of Truman's second term and includes the Cold War at home and in Asia, the Korean War and the dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur.
  • America in 1952- A nation at the peak of its economic and military power. Power and insecurity, plenty and want, generosity and prejudice - America in 1952 embodies all these contradictions. This complex picture was captured in the varied pages of Life Magazine, which chronicled life in the US at the dawn of what some called "The American Century."
  • Leaving Office-Provides an inside look at the final moments in the Truman Presidency and his return to Independence.
  • Legacy-A life-sized statue of Truman surrounded by text panels summarizing the legacy of his presidency in an area that provides a courtyard view of the eternal flame and the burial site of Harry and Bess Truman.
  • The "Living Legacy" gallery features video excerpts of speeches from prominent American politicians of different political parties and philosophies that invoke the spirit of Truman and claim his legacy. At the end of the gallery is a large glass-covered posting board that will be filled with current newspaper and magazine articles about events and subjects of today that connect to the decisions and actions of the Truman Administration. A visitor opinion book encourages visitors to write down their thoughts about the Truman Presidency and their reactions to the exhibits in the Presidential Galleries.

Also completed in phase two of the renovation is the museum's new education wing. Designed to resemble the West Wing of the White House, it accommodates the White House Decision Center, a one-of-a-kind experiential program for high school students who take on the roles of President Truman and his key advisors facing real-life historical decisions. The innovative program is designed to actively engage students in research, analysis, decision making, leadership and communication. Students will understand the role of the president and his advisors, how presidential decisions are made, models for decision making and a historical perspective in which decisions are made.

The third and final phase of the renovation is scheduled for 2003 with a permanent exhibit on the Life and Times of Harry S. Truman, a collection of photographs and artifacts that tell the story of President Truman before and after his years in The White House.

Funding for the major renovation project came from nearly $12.5 million in private contributions, $8 million in federal funds through the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), plus $2 million from the State of Missouri.

The Grand Rededication of the Truman Presidential Museum & Library is scheduled for Sunday, December 9, 2001 at 2:00 p.m. This event will celebrate the completion of the major structural improvements to the museum, the opening of the new exhibit and the education wing and the development of major new educational programs. Live music, roaming entertainment and refreshments highlight an afternoon of ceremonial presentations and a special keynote address by Pulitzer Prize Winner David McCullough, who authored the book Truman.

In preparation for the 2:00 p.m. rededication ceremony, the museum will be closed from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. Admission to the Truman Presidential Museum & Library will be free following the 2:00 p.m. rededication ceremony. The museum will remain open until 7:00 p.m.

The Truman Presidential Museum & Library is located at U.S. Highway 24 and Delaware Street in Independence, Missouri. The Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is $5 for adults, $4.50 for seniors and $3 for children 6-18 years old. For more information, call the 1-800-833-1225 or the web site at www.trumanlibrary.org.

The Harry S. Truman Library is one of ten Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.

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