“What would Ike say?

“What did Ike say?

“What did Mamie have to say?

Those were common themes often expressed by Pam Sanfilippo, learning and engagement director at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Museum and Library, during the 15-month renovation of the Museum.

Visitors can now see the answers to those questions as the $11.5 million renovation of the 25,000 square feet museum is back open to the public as of 10 a.m. today.

“It, to me, was an excellent time, the whole thing, for us to focus our energies, our attention on what would Ike and Mamie say, what would Ike and Mamie want,” said Dawn Hammatt, director of the museum and library. “We leaned on Ike and Mamie to tell the story themselves. That was an interesting concept that we kept coming back to.”

Sometimes it was difficult to figure out just what the team was trying to accomplish.

Sitting with the team and really contemplating what we wanted to do was also the fun part of the experience, Hammatt said.

She has been behind five museum renovations.

She said the “depth and breath” of the Eisenhower collection presented many possibilities.

“We had the local collection, the Eisenhower Presidential Library collection, but we also had at our availability Truman, F.D.R. and the National Archives,” she said. “To be able to mine all of that for appropriate images or footage was really pretty amazing. I have never worked with this vast of a collection. It was overwhelming.”

She said some of the footage of the D-Day film was digitized for a museum exhibit which is new.

“No one has ever seen it,” she said. “To me the flip of that is, because we had it digitized, now it is available for any researcher at the National Archives.”

The museum flows through the life of Eisenhower, his boyhood home of Abilene, his education at West Point, meeting Mamie in San Antonio, serving as general and being elected president.

After Eisenhower left the Oval Office he requested and received reinstatement as general.

“He was in contact with President Kennedy on occasion and other world leaders. He wasn’t out of the political realm even when he left the presidency,” Hammatt said.

The renovations were funded by donations to the Eisenhower Foundation.

Visit online at eisenhowerlibrary.gov for ticket pricing and to plan a visit today. The Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum is located at 200 SE 4th Street, Abilene, KS 67410, and is open daily 8 a.m. to 5:45 in June and July and from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. August through May.

All buildings on the 22-acre campus are fully handicapped accessible. For more information, call (785) 263-6700 or (877) RING-IKE.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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