Visiting The Reagan Library – A Time Capsule of the End of the Cold War
The Reagan Library is the legacy of America's 40th president, Ronald Wilson Reagan, who served two presidential terms from 1981 to 1989. Before becoming president, Reagan was a radio announcer, movie actor and Governor of California from 1967 to 1975.
Located on a hilltop in Simi Valley, north of Los Angeles, the Library and Museum contains exhibits on Reagan's early life, radio and movie career, time as Governor of California and his two terms as President of the United States.
Address: 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, CA. 93065
Hours: 10-5 Daily
Admission: $21 adult, $18 Seniors 62+, $15 Youth 11-17, $10 kids 3-10, under 3 free
Parking: Free lot
Tours: Audio tour and advance group tours available for an additional fee
Reagan Library Highlights
The Reagan Library has the actual Air Force One airplane used by Ronald Reagan during his two terms in office as well as several motorcade vehicles and a Marine One helicopter. Another highlight is a piece of the actual Berlin Wall, and an extensive exhibit on the historic events which led to the dismantling of the wall and the USSR. You can also visit a replica of the Oval Office at the White House furnished as it was during Reagan's tenure as president. A portion of the White House Rose Garden and South Lawn is also replicated, and is the site of Memorial, where both Ronald and Nancy Reagan are buried.
Regardless of your politics, the story of the man, his career and his times are presented in an interesting way. There are interactive exhibits that allow you to call a baseball game, address a White House press conference, test your table etiquette and more.
The Reagan Library also hosts temporary exhibits that may or may not be directly related to the Reagan presidency.
Continue through the slides to preview some of the exhibits at the Reagan Library.
The Air Force One Pavilion
The Air Force One plane that was in use during Reagan's presidency is on exhibit inside a large indoor pavilion at the Reagan Library.
If you're interested in planes, you might also want to check out LA's Air and Space Museums.
Inside Air Force One at the Reagan Library
You can walk through Air Force One at the Reagan Library and see how it was equipped during Reagan's time in office. Docents explain the function of each compartment and tell stories about Reagan's relationship with the members of the press who flew with him, including the fact that they all had to pay first class rates to be on the plane, and that Reagan made sure there was always a chocolate cake on board for anyone who had a birthday.
The Motorcade Exhibit
The Motorcade Exhibit inside the Air Force One Pavilion includes one of President Reagan's limousines with the license plate, GIPPER, as well as a black suburban used by the Secret Service and a police car.
There's also a Marine One helicopter used by President Johnson.
The Oval Office Exhibit at the Reagan Library
Inside the Reagan Library is an exact replica of the Oval Office as it was during Reagan's two terms in office, complete with jars of Jelly Beans. The room is sunken because the ranch ceiling wasn't high enough to accommodate the accurate height of the walls, so they had to dig deeper to make it the same as the real Oval Office.
The Cold War
Reagan escalated the Cold War, but was also instrumental in setting the stage for its end, even though the Berlin Wall didn't fall until five months after Reagan left office and the USSR was dissolved three years later. The chronology of the discussions is depicted in video, text panels and photos.
Berlin Wall Exhibit
There is a piece of the actual Berlin Wall in garden behind the Reagan Library, and the Museum includes an exhibit of Cold War artifacts and Berlin Wall replica.
Take the Presidential Podium at the Reagan Library
In one of the exhibits at the Reagan Library, you can stand at the Presidential podium at a pseudo press conference and see how the speech text is onto the teleprompter.
Attempt on the President's Life
Just 69 days into his presidency, on March 30, 1981, President Reagan and three others were shot in an attack outside the Washington Hilton. The suit coat with the bullet hole, the gun and other artifacts related to the shooting are on display at the Reagan Library.
Nancy Reagan Wardrobe Highlights
There is very little in the Reagan Museum about Reagan's family. His first wife, Jane Wyman, appears in exactly one photo, and his children from both marriages are barely mentioned, but there is a room dedicated to Nancy Reagan and her role as First Lady. Some of her most recognizable outfits are on display, as well as gifts the Reagans received from dignitaries around the world.
The Reagan Memorial
Ronald and Nancy Reagan are buried under the Reagan Memorial, which is at the edge of the replica of the White House Rose Garden behind the Reagan Library.