ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — To mark the 125th year since Dwight D. Eisenhower's birth, a multi-million dollar fundraising campaign has begun to do a better job of telling the story of the nation's 34th president.
Three months ago, the Eisenhower Foundation began raising money to improve the Eisenhower Presidential Museum, Library and Boyhood Home, its website and education programs, The Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/1U0ZakX ) reports. The museum is located near Eisenhower's boyhood home in Abilene, a town of about 6,800 residents in north-central Kansas.
"In the last 15 to 20 years there has been more information that has come out about Ike's presidency through our library and because of records becoming declassified," said Meredith Sleichter, executive officer for the Eisenhower Foundation. "These have shaped and evolved his story even more. Our museum needs to be updated so we can get his story up to date."
It's not yet known how much money will need to be raised over the next five years, Sleichter said.
One of the main focuses will be updating museum exhibits to make them more interactive and informative for generations who have never heard of Eisenhower, the Holocaust or even the Cold War. Before becoming president, Eisenhower was the Supreme Allied Commander of World War II forces in Europe who launched the invasion in 1944 that would lead to Germany's surrender less than a year later.
Eisenhower museum officials are anticipating that the museum will close down for about a year in 2018 for renovation. The Eisenhower complex - the library, boyhood home and meditation chapel will remain open with some of the exhibits moving temporarily over to the library.
"We want to create an experience for our guests that incorporates the technology and brings up to a modern standard what museum guests expect today," Sleichter said.
The renovated museum will get a new lighting system and will be brighter, she said.
"A lot of times we will get questioned on why the federal government is not taking care of this," Sleichter said. "While we have a public/private partnership with the National Archives, it structurally keeps the Eisenhower Library in fantastic condition with wonderfully manicured grounds. The buildings are in great condition so our bones are there. But it is up to the Eisenhower Foundation and private donors to take care of exhibits, programs and events."
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com