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Truman Library And Museum Closing For A Yearlong, $25 Million Expansion And Renovation

Truman Library Institute
The President Harry S. Truman Library and Museum will be closed until the summer or fall of 2020 for renovations. Plans include a new entrance and lobby.

The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence will shut its doors on July 23 and remain closed for approximately one year while it undergoes a multimillion-dollar expansion and renovation. Its last day open to the public will be Monday, July 22.

Library Director Kurt Graham said the project would create "a more 21st-century offering" that would make the museum "more of a destination" and help meet its core purpose, which is education.

"More people in the community and more people from beyond the community will come and enjoy learning about this legacy and this incredible story of a guy who comes literally from nowhere: A farmer from Missouri rises to be the most powerful man in the world," he said.

"That will likely never happen again," Graham added. "We will never see another Harry Truman.”

To date, the Truman Library Institute has raised $23 million of a $25 million funding campaign, the institute said in a news release. Most of that — $22 million — will go toward the expansion and other renovations including a new entrance and lobby, a larger store and expanded exhibition galleries. The 3,000-square foot addition will also include a private event venue spaces for offices, archives, storage and mechanical purposes.

That leaves $3 million for educational and public programs and the library’s endowment, which will each receive $1 million.

The state of Missouri gave a $3-million appropriation to the library for the project.

"It's just an incredible vote of confidence," Graham said. "This is Missouri’s only president and we’re just so delighted that the state is coming in to help fund a look at his legacy, because it's not just for Independence or just for Kansas City, it's for all Missourians to feel proud of the fact that 'Give-'Em-Hell' Harry came from right here."


Credit Truman Library Institute
Renovations will create more space for permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, including material about President Truman's World War I service in France

Next year marks the 75th anniversary of Truman taking office in 1945, following the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“Renovating his library and museum is a fitting way to honor the leading architect of our modern democratic institutions,” Clifton Truman Daniel, Truman’s oldest grandson and honorary chairman of the Truman Library Institute, said in a news release.

The museum says about 92,000 people visit each year. About 50,000 people participate in the library’s educational programs. Public programs see about 13,000 participants every year.

That programming will continue at other locations over the next year, the museum said. The Truman Library Archives and research rooms will remain open throughout renovations.

Credit Truman Library Institute
Exhibits at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum cover Truman's life and presidency, including how the end of World War II soon after he took office.

For planning and design, the museum has contracted Gallagher & Associates, which previously designed the National World War II and International Spy museums.

"The Truman Library is one of only 14 presidential libraries around the country," Graham said. "So there are only 13 other communities that have a treasure like this in their own home town. And so we’re very proud of the fact that Truman was from here in Independence, and that he came back to Independence. He could have gone anywhere."

Correction: An earlier photo caption falsely stated that Truman was the only president to serve in World War I. President Dwight D. Eisenhower served stateside in the Army during World War I. 

Christina Elias is an intern at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her at christinae@kcur.org or on Twitter @eliaschristina4.

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