Any presidential library can be an interesting place to visit for those curious about history, but I found the Bill Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas particularly fascinating.
The building itself is modern, with lots of sharp angles and natural light coming into the place. It also offers a nice view of the city and nearby park from the upper floors.
A lot of the museum focuses on a timeline with detailed information about important events that occurred during Clinton’s presidency.
And, yes, subjects like Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky are mentioned. Kudos to the library organizers for being willing to tell the whole story.
(Not every presidential library is equally forthright when it comes to mentioning the less-savory parts of a presidency, but I digress…)
Here’s what I saw when I visited one of the most popular attractions in Arkansas!
Clinton Presidential Library Hours & Ticket Prices
The Clinton Library is open seven days a week. From Monday through Saturday, hours are 9 am to 5 pm. On Sundays, the library is only accessible between 1 and 5 pm.
The facility currently charges a reasonable ticket price of $12 for adults. Seniors, students, and retired military pay $10. Kids between 6 and 17 are charged $7. Admission is free for active duty military and kids under 5.
How long does it take to tour the Clinton Library? Give yourself 60 to 90 minutes. Unless you’re very into presidential history, that will be enough to see all the exhibits and have the full experience.
There’s a free parking lot for visitors. Admission to the library is totally free twice a year: on Presidents Day and on Bill’s birthday, August 3.
The solid granite structure houses over 77 million pages of documents, 1.9 million photographs, 10 thousand audio tapes and 2 thousand videos related to the Clinton administration.
Researchers work to understand the past by studying these archives. Notable projects have included creating records open to the public, digitizing all materials, and preserving images of current events captured on video.
What You’ll See Inside the Library
One of the coolest parts is a full re-creation of the Oval Office as it looked during Clinton’s tenure. You’re not allowed to walk inside, but you can peer in and take pictures.
The decision to include a re-creation of the Oval Office is slightly odd because of that whole Monica Lewinsky matter.
I’m pretty sure that when everyone sees the Oval Office likeness, their thought pattern goes like this: “Oh, cool, it’s the Oval Office… Hmmm, I wonder exactly where in the room the Lewinsky incident took place?”
Other exhibits include the Presidential Limo, which greets visitors on the first floor; information about the early years of Bill and Hillary; highlights from the Inauguration; and a re-creation of the Cabinet room.
I also like the display cases that feature photos and artifacts, like this one with several of Bill’s saxophones and a portrait of his mother.
Guests can explore the expansion that was inaugurated in 2011 complete with high-tech sound and video capabilities and more than twice as much display space devoted to capturing memories from everyday people who were part of this presidency.
This site in Little Rock is one of two presidential libraries I’ve written about. If you have a chance to visit Atlanta, you can check out Jimmy Carter’s library, which has a lot of fascinating memorabilia.
I’ve also written about other presidential stuff, like the Bush family’s Kennebunkport complex in Maine, and the statues of Ulysses S. Grant and his wife in Galena, Illinois.
Have you ever visited a presidential library?