Abstract: This article focuses on the museums in presidential libraries. Since 1940 the rise of the federal presidential library has transformed presidential memorialization by largely allowing presidents—initially, at least—to commemorate themselves. This has populated the landscape of public memory in the United States with a series of history museums that promote an expansive view of presidential power. These museums also attempt to elevate individual presidents into the civil religion of the United States. This article examines the largely celebratory accounts in some presidential libraries, and contrasts them with the Truman Library's more balanced and historically accurate approach.
Spotlights and Shadows: Presidents and Their Administrations in Presidential Museum Exhibits
BENJAMIN HUFBAUER is an associate professor of art history at the University of Louisville's Hite Art Institute, where he teaches architectural history and American art. He received his doctorate from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and his bachelor's degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz. He has published articles on a variety of subjects in journals such as American Studies, African Arts, and RES: The Journal of the Harvard Peabody Museum. His book, Presidential Temples: How Memorials and Libraries Shape Public Memory, was published by the University Press of Kansas in January of 2006.
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BENJAMIN HUFBAUER; Spotlights and Shadows: Presidents and Their Administrations in Presidential Museum Exhibits. The Public Historian 1 January 2006; 28 (3): 117–132. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2006.28.3.117
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