Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

January 24, 2007

Susan Medler
PH 816.268.8245 o FAX 816.269.8299

Truman Library Receives $125,000 Save America's Treasures Grant
to Preserve Truman's Working Office

INDEPENDENCE, MO-The Truman Library Institute, the non-profit partner of the Truman Presidential Museum & Library, has been awarded a $125,000 Save America's Treasures grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior to restore and preserve the office in which Harry S. Truman conducted the personal, political and diplomatic business of his post-presidential years.

Following the former president's death in 1972, Truman's office became popular with Library visitors, who enjoy viewing the contents through an outside window facing the courtyard. But the cumulative effects of more than 30 years of exposure have taken a serious toll on Truman's office, which was designed as administrative space and is lacking museum-quality environmental controls. The long-term survival of the historical contents of President Truman's office has been seriously threatened, making the preservation of Truman's office the Truman Library Institute's number one funding priority.

"This grant will play a significant part as we address the urgent preservation needs of this rare treasure in presidential history," said Michael Devine, director of the Truman Presidential Museum & Library. "Winning this prestigious national award confirms the importance of preserving and making more accessible President Truman's office at the Truman Library."

From the time the Truman Library opened in 1957, Harry Truman maintained an office there, often working five to six days a week. In his office he wrote his book of memoirs, Mr. Citizen, articles, letters, and other correspondence. He met with Presidents Hoover, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson, and with other notable Americans like Jack Benny, Ginger Rogers, Robert Kennedy, Thomas Hart Benton, Dean Acheson, and Earl Warren. He participated actively in the day-to-day operation of the Library, establishing themes for the Library's first museum exhibits, personally training groups of museum docents, and conducting impromptu "press conferences" for visiting school students.

Despite the limited view, Truman's office remains a favorite exhibit of visitors, who are attracted by the personal connection to history one feels in the office, which remains as it was the day Harry S. Truman died. Among the 56 items and mementos on his cluttered desk is the small photograph of Bess Wallace that she gave him in 1917 before he set off for his army service in France during the First World War. A small stone and a block of wood are souvenirs of the White House renovation that took place during his presidency. A silver cigar box was a gift of state from President J. A. Rios of Chile. The original mockup of the Presidential flag, redesigned in 1945 at the direction of President Truman, is displayed on one wall. And the office desk itself is the one President Truman used in his private study in the White House. A voracious reader, Truman kept in his office nearly 500 books, many of which are inscribed with handwritten notes from the authors, including Winston Churchill, T.S. Eliot, Herbert Hoover and Lyndon Johnson.

Throughout the office, irreplaceable artifacts are showing the damaging effects of fluctuating climate conditions. Mold growth is evident on some of the leather-bound books, furniture joints are separating, and the 1945 prototype of the Presidential Flag is faded beyond full recovery.

"In recent years, stop-gap measures have been taken to slow the deterioration," said Clay Bauske, museum curator at the Truman Library. "Funding for the Truman Working Office preservation will allow us stabilize, and in some cases, reverse the damage done to the historical materials in President Truman's office, while permanently addressing the numerous internal environmental issues that threaten this treasured collection."

The total scope of the Truman Working Office renovation includes the creation of an exhibit pavilion with engaging interpretive exhibits emphasizing the precedents Truman set for his Library and for the entire presidential library system. Groundbreaking for the new exhibition is expected to take place in 2007 to help mark the Truman Library's 50th anniversary.

The Save Americas Treasures grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior is administered by the National Park Service in partnership with the Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

The Truman Presidential Museum & Library is one of eleven presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. The Truman Presidential Museum & Library is supported, in part, by the Harry S. Truman Library Institute, the not-for-profit partner of the Truman Library. To learn more about the Truman Presidential Museum & Library and the Harry S. Truman Library Institute, visit www.trumanlibrary.org.

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