The Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum was built by the Eisenhower Foundation by funds raised through public gifts. The museum is situated in Abilene, Kansas. In honor of Kansas and their limestone the building was constructed from that material. In 1954 on Veterans Day the museum was dedicated. The motivation for the museum was to have materials and objects associated with President Eisenhower on display. There is 30,000 square feet of gallery space which holds fine art and information on the president's military career.
Inside the building are five major areas called the Introductory Gallery, Temporary Gallery, Mamie Eisenhower Gallery, Military Gallery, and the Presidential Gallery. For special interest or important artifacts there is the Temporary Gallery. Periodically new exhibits appear in the temporary gallery, so that repeating visitors can find something new.
Currently in the temporary gallery is the Gem on the Plains exhibit. It opened on May 15th 2009 and will be there until February 21st, 2010. Coming after that exhibit is the Working White House: 200 Years of Tradition and Memories. This display will be there for three months.
The Introductory Gallery has an overview of Dwight Eisenhower's life from boyhood till 1945. Eisenhower was married to Mamie. Her exhibit depicts her early life and more specifically her time as the first lady. Dresses she wore as the first lady are on display depicting her style. The Military Gallery offers documents, photographs, clothing, and objects that show Eisenhower's role in the military. He was a Supreme Commander. The last section is the Presidential Gallery. As one might expect this takes visitors through 1953 to 1961. It offers details of Eisenhower's administration with interactive displays and learning centers. There is even a 1950's fallout shelter, 1950's living room, and Plaza theater marquee. Lastly a replica of Eisenhower's Gettysburg retirement office is provided.
The museum picks a feature item to put on display out of the collection. The item can change. For 2009 the featured item is the Order of Victory. It is a Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic star. The star has five points and is made of platinum with rubies and diamonds on it. The medallion was coated with blue enamel in the center to portray Lenin's mausoleum and the Spassky Tower in the Kremlin. It is ringed by oak and laurel leaves with rose cut diamonds. It weighs in at sixteen carats.
Anyone interested in Dwight D. Eisenhower's life may want to visit his boyhood home. The house was occupied from 1898 to 1946, when Mrs. Eisenhower died. Her sons gave the house to the Eisenhower Foundation, but in 1966 it was given to the federal government. Since 1947 the home has been open to the public. It was originally a WWII veterans' memorial.
Museum hours are 9am to 4:45 pm daily. It is closed for major holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. Admission allows children seven and under to enter for free, 8 to 15 years old are $1, and 16 to 61 years of age are $8. Senior rates are $6 and active military are free.