Gerald R. Ford Museum Exhibits Make Visitors "Participants" in History

Ten Gerald R. Ford Museum galleries feature hands-on, interactive, video, and holographic displays that make visitors "participants" in history.

The exhibits enable visitors to travel by video with President Ford and Secretary Kissinger to various hot spots around the globe; take a holographic tour of the Ford White House; "stand" on the floor of the 1976 Republican National Convention; and experience a day in the Oval Office through sophisticated lighting and new soundtrack. A Watergate gallery includes a six-minute, multi-screen history beginning with the June 1972 break-in -- plus the actual burglary tools on display for the first time ever.

"The 1970s, An Overview" Gallery

In the first gallery, a multi-media re-creation of pop culture immerses visitors in the sights, sounds, and issues of the tumultuous period. Video and sound bites recalling various news events blend with early 1970s memorabilia including platform shoes, tie-dyed garments, bell-bottom jeans, love beads, eight-track tapes, and MIA bracelets. An interactive display incorporates music; icons of home life; and such statistics as life expectancy, median income, cost of a new car, and a typical grocery basket.

"Constitution in Crisis" Gallery

Visitors move from the 1970s gallery to a gripping multi-screen video history of the Watergate scandal. The display also features the actual burglary tools used in the Watergate break-in. View an on-line exhibit based on this gallery.

"Who is Gerald Ford?" Gallery

After experiencing the mood and climate of the 1970s, visitors journey farther back in time to Ford's early days -- from his formative years through his congressional service -- in a re-creation of his father's paint and varnish company. This display portrays Ford as a man of decency and integrity, highlighting the important role his Grand Rapids upbringing played in developing this future leader. Visitors also see Gerald Ford as the nation first came to know him, through a re-creation of his vice-presidential confirmation hearings.

"Ford Becomes President" Gallery

In this gallery, visitors experience Ford's transition from vice president to president through a re-creation of the East Room of the White House. A photomural, architectural detail, and an audiovisual presentation allow visitors to experience events surrounding the resignation of Richard Nixon, Ford's dramatic inauguration as the 38th president of the United States, and the hectic weeks that followed.

"At Work in the Oval Office" Gallery

The Oval Office replica from the original display has been updated and expanded with dramatic overhead lighting synchronized to a narration detailing activities and artifacts in America's most famous room. As viewers activate the display with a touch-screen monitor, recorded voices of actors portraying Ford, Rockefeller, Kissinger, and others describe the highlighted areas for a look at a typical day in the most atypical of work spaces.

"Leadership in Diplomacy" Gallery

Here visitors can participate in U.S. foreign policy decision making. By selecting a location on a giant interactive world map, guests can travel with President Ford and Secretary Kissinger to hot spots around the globe and learn about the events or diplomatic challenges the Ford administration faced. The realism of this exhibit is heightened by the display of an authentic Vietnam-era UH-1 Huey helicopter.

"New Mood at the White House" Gallery

A new mood at the White House came with the Ford administration. In this visually exciting gallery, a unique holographic device brings the White House to life. "With a spectacular graphic presentation, we put you right inside the White House," said Richard Norton Smith. Visitors activate the display by selecting one of ten rooms in the president's house. A large screen appears on which the history of that particular room unfolds across two centuries. Featured are head of state visits, life in the family quarters, and elaborate state dinners for Queen Elizabeth and other world leaders. In this gallery, visitors also will enjoy a changing selection of Bicentennial gifts presented to President and Mrs. Ford.

"America at 200" Gallery

In this gallery, artifacts and video images recount Gerald Ford's domestic policy including the energy crisis, CIA reform, and the economic recession. Besides demonstrating Ford's reliance on those who worked with him, this gallery also illustrates Betty Ford's outspoken advocacy on a variety of women's issues. Expanded displays feature elegant gifts from foreign heads of state and items recalling America's Bicentennial celebration.

"The 1976 Campaign" Gallery

In a walk through the 1976 Campaign gallery, visitors go back in time on the floor of the tumultuous 1976 Republican National Convention to experience the challenge by former California governor Ronald Reagan. Mini theaters feature excerpts from presidential debates, election night coverage, and Jimmy Carter's inauguration. Visitors also have an opportunity to stand behind a podium and TelePrompTer to deliver an actual Ford campaign speech.

"After the White House" Gallery

In the concluding gallery, video vignettes highlight Ford's post-presidential activities. Photos and interviews with Gerald Ford and his contemporaries trace the continuing Ford tradition of service, interest in contemporary issues, and integrity since leaving the White House. Mrs. Ford's activities are also recounted here.

For information about temporary exhibits, see the Calendar of Events

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Last Updated: June 25, 2004