GERALD R. FORD PRESIDENTIAL MUSEUM AND FOUNDATION
TO LAUNCH VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE
Virtual museum tours and educational materials now available
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and Foundation are offering new virtual access to exhibits and learning materials. The virtual experiences of exhibits and youth-centered curriculum are being made available due to the closure of the Museum because of the COVID-19 precautions. The virtual museum exhibits are available online at Ford Library Museum, while the youth-centered experiences can be viewed online at the Museum’s DeVos Learning Center. The virtual experiences will be rolled out for online viewing beginning April 2, 2020. (view the Virtual Experience)
“While the nation is not only experiencing the shutdown of businesses and schools, individuals are also missing out on opportunities to explore cultural venues,” said Elaine Didier, Director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum. “Working in collaboration with the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, we were able to quickly enhance our virtual offerings to include both cultural enrichment and educational experiences at the Museum. In addition, we hope individuals use this opportunity to explore the vast array of our archival holdings online.”
Curator led tours
Led by Museum Curator Don Holloway, those visiting the virtual exhibits are given an inside look at the different stages of the life of Gerald R. Ford. From the beginning of his childhood years, viewers will learn that Ford was born with the legal name, Leslie Lynch King. Holloway also shares insight to Ford’s time at the University of Michigan, where he was projected to be the most promising freshman center on the football team. Ford continued on to Yale University School of Law to pursue a legal degree and opened his own law firm in Grand Rapids. Shortly after, Ford left his practice to enlist in the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Monterey.
The tour also looks at how Ford volunteered to campaign during his college years and how it led him to pursue a political career. After serving 25 years in Congress and maintaining close relations with Lyndon Johnson, Ford was hand-selected by Johnson to sit on the Warren Commission to investigate the Kennedy assassination. These experiences influenced Ford to strive further, eventually leading him to the vice presidency after the resignation of Spiro Agnew. After serving nearly nine months as vice president, Ford became the 38th President of the United States, succeeding President Nixon in a storm of controversy.
As president, Ford championed many issues in his three-year term. He advocated for civil rights, helping to initiate what is now recognized as Black History Month. He also led Americans into a period of stability following years of reduced economic strength largely due to the recession in the early 1970s. The tour includes the funeral tributes to President and Mrs. Ford, and helps viewers reflect on all the successes and experiences of Ford through his lifetime of courage, compassion and leadership.
The youth-centered programming offered at the DeVos Learning Center uses a virtual experience platform to provide viewers with an educational and engaging curriculum. Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation Director of Engagement and Programming Clare Shubert leads four story-time sessions from Ford’s Cabinet Room and Oval Office inside the Museum. Shubert also leads a fun question-and-answer session with Holloway, taking a deeper look into Ford’s 1976 campaign, as well as the role of a museum curator.
In addition to these new resources, the Learning Center’s website will also be elevating its PBS Learning Media and National Geographic Educational pieces, which look into the life and legacy of President Ford.
Additionally, the virtual experience highlights two temporary exhibits that were on display prior to the Museum’s temporary closure. “The Continual Struggle: The American Freedom Movement and the Seeds of Social Change,” by Brian Washington, and “Wounded Warrior Dogs Project & K9 War Stores,” by James Mellick.
In recognition of Black History Month in February and Ford’s advocacy on behalf of civil rights, “The Continual Struggle” provides insights into America’s historical struggle against segregation and other race-based injustices. The “Wounded Warrior Dog” exhibit is featured to spotlight the service and heroism of working military dogs, as well as, to symbolize the courageous sacrifices their human companions suffered during battle and raising awareness about their needs.
“The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation supports and promotes the ideals, values, commitment to public service and historical legacy of President and Mrs. Gerald R. Ford. This is done through support of the permanent and changing exhibits; educational and other programs, at the Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum, DeVos Learning Center, and throughout the nation,” said Joe Calvaruso, Executive Director of the Foundation. “Though the Museum’s and Learning Center’s doors are closed, it is important to continue offering programming for adults and children alike. We are committed to offering virtual experiences to individuals wishing to learn about the life of our nation’s 38th President.”
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is part of the National Archives and Records Administration. NARA is an independent agency of the United States government charged with the preservation and documentation of government and historical records. Additional support for the Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum is provided by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.