The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum reopened on Friday, Oct. 14 after a $15 million renovation. The ribbon-cutting ceremony featured the former president’s family, former cabinet members, Nixon Foundation chairs and guest politicians.
The library, just 20 minutes northeast of UC Irvine, originally opened in 1990 in Yorba Linda on the lemon farm where Richard Nixon was born and raised. The Richard Nixon Foundation, a “privately supported, nonprofit and nonpartisan institution dedicated to the discovery, debate and discussion about Richard Nixon and his influence on today’s world,” owns the land upon which the Library and Museum is built. The nine-acre campus officially became a federal facility in 2007 under the joint operation of the Nixon Foundation and the National Archives and Records Administration.
The renovated library features 70 new exhibits, hundreds of photographs, artifacts and replicas of the five offices Nixon used in his life, including a full-scale replica of The Oval Office during his administration.
One of the largest exhibits at the foundation details Nixon’s famous 1972 visit to the People’s Republic of China, which was the first step in normalizing relations between the United States and China. Because of Nixon’s importance to Sino-American relations, the event also featured prominent guests: Liu Jian, Chinese Consul General; Ciu Tiankai, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States; and Winston Lord, the former U.S. Ambassador to China.
The event also featured 93 year old Dr. Henry Kissinger, the 56th U.S. Secretary of State under Richard Nixon, who defined American foreign policy from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s and conducted secret diplomatic missions to China in late 1971.
“He had the courage and the vision to open to China and to put before the American people a new vision of world order,” Kissinger said of Nixon.
The opening ceremony featured several keynote speakers, including President and CEO of the Nixon Foundation William H. Baribault, Vice Chairman James H. Cavanaugh, Nixon’s daughter Tricia Nixon Cox and former California governor Pete Wilson.
“He had an indomitable spirit,” Wilson said of Nixon. “When he resigned, he wasn’t quitting. He resigned because he thought it was best for the country.”
Several speakers repeated a quote from Nixon himself, uttered at the 1990 dedication of the original Library and Museum.
“While the past is interesting,” Nixon said, “it is important only in so far as it points the way to a better future.”