Chandler is a quirky kid who loves history and had been begging me to take him to the Lincoln exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Library. (Well, maybe not begging. But asking insistently. And repeatedly.)
Marley and Dave were busy with other things, so I got the rare and wonderful opportunity to spend a Saturday afternoon with my 16-year-old son. Even though I had him trapped in a metal box with no escape for twenty minutes I was nice on the car ride over and didn’t ask him about girls.
We mostly chatted about his new classes at school and what we were looking forward to seeing at the museum. (And by chatted I mean I asked him questions and he gave me one – two word answers.) I told him I was most excited about seeing Air Force One. You can see the exhibit building from the freeway and it looks quite impressive.
The bulk of the museum of course is dedicated to Reagan’s presidency. There is a lot of memorabilia including many gifts given to Reagan, the outfits he and the first lady wore on the day of his inauguration, White House china, and even notes scrawled by Reagan when he was in the hospital after he was shot and instructed by his doctors not to speak.
The museum has a replica of the oval office complete with actual items that were on his desk and the small bronze statues he had displayed during his presidency.
There are also a lot of interactive activities including “acting” in a movie with Reagan, “delivering” his inaugural speech, and “setting” the White House table for dinner. Chandler of course could not be bothered with standing on the podium, but I look very presidential, don’t you think?
Air Force One was as cool as I had anticipated. Just the building itself is spectacular. And the plane inside the building is visually stunning. We were able to board the plane, but weren’t allowed to take photographs on board. But in case you were wondering, presidents fly a bit more comfortably than you and I do. (Even if you already fly first class.)
After exploring Air Force One and the other presidential vehicles we went on to the National Treasures Gallery where there is a steel beam from the World Trade Center. It’s amazing how moved you can be by a charred piece of metal.
Finally we got to what Chandler had been waiting for – the Lincoln Exhibit. A. Lincoln: From Railsplitter to Rushmore is a mash-up of over 250 original Abraham Lincoln artifacts and movie sets form Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” Movie. Objects on display include President Lincoln’s famous stovepipe hat, a bloodied pillow from the night he died, Mary Todd Lincoln’s bible, and coolest of all a Lincoln-signed Emancipation Proclamation.
My little (or rather big) history buff thought the Lincoln exhibition was fantastic and I have to agree.
We then moved on to the outside to see a piece of the Berlin Wall and Ronald Reagan’s grave. The views are just gorgeous. And again, it’s pretty cool to look at history right up close.
If you are looking for a Los Angeles or Ventura County day trip and would like to experience some really cool history, I suggest getting yourself to the Reagan Museum before the Lincoln exhibit is gone. But you’d better get there quickly, because the exhibit only lasts through September 30th.
It’s a fantastic way to spend the day. And maybe you’ll even get lucky like me and convince your teenager to pose in a photo with you.
Disclosure: I was given two tickets to the Ronald Reagan Library to facilitate this post, however all opinions, geeking out over Air Force One, and the thrill of spending the day with just my son are completely my own.