Interactive exhibits among highlights of updated Ford museum
May. 31, 2016
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum will reopen soon after months of renovations.
The updates include a simulation of a 1944 typhoon that threatened the aircraft carrier on which Ford served during World War II and the chance to stand behind the 38th president's desk in a replica of the Oval Office.
The museum in Grand Rapids reopens June 7 after being closed since last fall for renovations, a project that included construction of the 8,000-square-foot DeVos Learning Center, which is designed to foster civic engagement among students.
New lighting and special effects will create the sensation of being on the deck of the USS Monterey as it got pounded by huge waves and caught fire from planes crashing into each other, The Grand Rapids Press reported.
"We had to tone it down a little bit because we didn't want people to get too dizzy," said Joe Cavalruso, executive director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.
The museum also features several new large photographs on the walls, more visual elements such as short films and interactive kiosks where visitors can explore documents and artifacts about topics such as Ford's high school years.
A replica of the Oval Office, which already was an attraction, now offers visitors the chance to stand behind the president's desk.
Ford was a congressman from Grand Rapids before becoming vice president and then president following Richard Nixon's 1974 resignation. Ford died in 2006, but his family and some members of his administration will attend a June 6 gala.
Museum Director Elaine Didier has said that the core exhibits "will now tell the complete life story" of the former president and first lady Betty Ford, who died in 2011.
The Ford Presidential Foundation said more than $15 million was raised for the learning center, exhibit updates and other work. Related projects include the digitalization of important papers at Ford's presidential library, which is located in Ann Arbor.