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My Visit To Little Rock's New William J. Clinton Presidential
By Will Robertson, Thu Dec 8th

Today, Wednesday, January 12, 2005, I visited the ClintonLibrary. Itís not my favorite architecture, glass and steel, butitís nice, and it works with the site and the message that itgives. In fact I had a wonderful, informative, even inspiredexperience.

I went with a good friend, Craig. We met in the lobby. He showedme the Cabinet Room replica, and then we ran to catch the nextviewing of the 20 minute introductory film about Clinton, hispresidency, and the library/museum.

The film was well worth the time. Itís well done and informativeĖ at least to me.

Afterward, we strolled through the museum displays. Well, Istrolled; my companion had done an internship in Washington andwas immediately glued to the first exhibit. I moved on and madea quick brush. In 45 minutes Craig had only gotten to the thirdexhibit out of 16.

We were both hungry and went down to the restaurant on thelowest level overlooking the river. It looked pretty busy, so wewalked to the River Market, only five minutes away. At theFarmerís Market I had a big ole salad and Craig had a TurkishStew. We sat at a picnic table in front of the amphitheateroverlooking the Arkansas River.

After lunch we stopped at the Clinton Museum Store. It had abunch of interesting and silly Clinton souvenirs and otherstuff. This is the place to go for a Clinton bobble-head.

Remember to keep your ticket handy if you leave the ClintonLibrary like we did. The ticket has the date on it and you cancome and go all you like that day.

The crowds both at the Clinton Library and the River Market werediverse and lively, but not dense or annoying. There wereseveral high school and college groups (20-30 people). A fewsmall groups of Seniors (6-10 people) milled around here andthere.

The staff at the Clinton Library was really helpful and sweet,though not fully up to speed on the details. In fact I saw onestaff member in the museum section reading up on some of thesame brochures I had just gotten in the lobby. Oh well, theyíllget the hang of it.

One staff member shared a few facts she had memorized about theClinton papers, the ďlibrary.Ē Apparently the ones in the museumrepresented only 1% of the actual amount. The other papers arestored in archives on site and will be made available to thepublic soon. The ones in the museum were in boxes, on shelves,secured by metal bars, so you couldnít read those either.

Thatís not really a library in my mind, but

 

I didnít want to gothrough all those papers anyway. I was interested in the DarylHammon video and the Oval Office replica. I also liked Chelseaístiny ballet shoes, displayed under glass. I wondered if she everwants them back?

The building is floored throughout with light stained hardwood.Very beautiful. The day was overcast, but the whole place wasstill flooded with light, as you might guess from all thewindows. Photographers will be thankful, because you arenítallowed to use a flash. Thatís one point the entire staff isclear on.

How many times would you have to flash a replica Cabinet memberchair to fade the original, 1,500 miles away in Washington? Ididnít get it; but Iím sure they have good reasons.

The elevators are on the first floor in the main lobby. Thereare also stairs and an escalator to the second floor. There areseveral tidy bathrooms at different location in the building,all very accessible.

Floor space is plentiful, the exhibits are layed out well, andcrowds flowed well. Only a few times people got congested aroundsome of the videos that play throughout the building.

Inside the main row of exhibits in the museum, Clintonís voicecan be heard from several (3-6) speakers at any one locationsimultaneously. The ambience was lively, and the effect wasenergizing, though it wore me out after a couple hours. Not sowith Craig, he stayed a total of 7 hours until they closed at5:00 PM.

On the 2 Ė 300 yard stroll back to the parking lot, I ducked inMr. Clintonís new School of Public Service. Itís housed in thered brick, historic Choctaw Train Station. The builders havedone a very classy remodel. It certainly seemed an upliftingatmosphere for improving your brain cells.

Before opening my car door, I did a slow 360 to take in thepanorama. Huge lawns of sod and landscaping are just taking rootaround the Clinton Library. The city skyline is blossoming withfresh, invigorating building projects. The River Market districthas a new energy with its trolley, mounted police, and a riverwalk (soon to connect with North Little Rock across the nowdefunct train trestle in front of the Clinton Library). AlsoHeifer Project International Village Complex is being built nextdoor.

Downtown Little Rock is becoming a fun spot. Driving away Ilooked forward to another lazy afternoon exploring the area.

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