The Association That Helped Revamp the White House Visitor Center

Working with the National Park Service, the White House Historical Association helped give private-sector support to a $12.6 million renovation effort for the visitor center. The results will be shown to the public for the first time on Saturday.

It took a couple of years and a lot of money, but visitors will finally get a close-up view of the history that has filled the White House over the past couple of centuries.

On Saturday, the White House Visitor Center will reopen after two years of renovation. Much of that renovation was paid for with the help of the White House Historical Association (WWHA), an educational group founded in 1961. Of the $12.6 million spent on the renovations, $7.5 million came from the association. (The National Park Service, which collaborated with the association on the effort, helped cover the rest.)

The visitor center, first established in 1995, was built to allow the public to purchase tickets for White House tours, but the increased security of the presidential mansion since September 11, 2001, has made it much more difficult for the public to obtain tour tickets. Now, members of the public have to reach out to their congressman or their foreign embassy.

The revamp gives the visitor center a chance to refocus its mission, allowing the public to get an up-close look at the White House’s many historical elements through interactive displays, interesting factoids, and famous letters sent to the Oval Office. More than 90 never-seen artifacts will be on display at the facility.

“For those who don’t have the opportunity to go to the White House, it is as good as you’re going to get to have an understanding of the [White House] as office, home and ceremonial stage,” WHHA president Stewart D. McLaurin told The Washington Post this week.

The revamped center has already had its christening—on Wednesday, first lady Michelle Obama cut a red ribbon to reopen the center.

As for the public, you can stop by 1450 Pennsylvania Ave. NW starting on Saturday. The center will be open most days from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

(National Park Service)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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