When locals think of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, we think of the library’s spectacular landscapes, beautiful hillside views, and the story of a man who embodied the traditional “rags to riches” story by becoming one of America’s most beloved Presidents. For many of us, these thoughts are also accompanied by the awesomeness that is the library’s Air Force One plane, the library’s majestic piece of the Berlin Wall, and how much the Oval Office Replica makes you feel like you’re truly in the White House. While each of these attractions at the Ronald Reagan Library is so intriguing in their own right, there is much more for our visitors to learn behind the fabulous Presidential museum and its wonderful attractions.
We sat down with the library’s Chief Marketing Officer, Ms. Melissa Giller, who oversees the library’s Public Relations and Advertising. Besides working tirelessly to bring notable speakers (such as Condoleezza Rice, and best-selling book author, Brad Thor) to the library, Ms. Giller is also in charge of selecting the impeccable exhibits that come to the library.
When we asked her about her favorite parts of the library, she named the Air Force One plane (which she actually witnessed come to the library); the library’s gorgeous views (especially at sunset); and the memorial site of Mr. and Mrs. Reagan. For her, having the site in such close proximity brings it all “close to home.”
When asked about what she admired about the former President for, Ms. Giller went on to say that one of the things she really respected about Ronald Reagan was “his story.” The library talks a lot about the former president’s home life; he lived in a tumultuous familial situation and grew up impoverished. Even with all that, he never lost sight of the fact that he was entirely capable of doing any and everything he set his mind to.
She also gave us the inside scoop behind the Reagan Library and all its glory, one of Simi Valley’s busiest tourist spots. As it turns out, the Ronald Reagan Library has so much more to offer besides their museum and exhibits. Here’s what we found out:
The Ronald Reagan Library is a museum AND a library.
While it’s true that the library does function as research facility that houses numerous documents and archives from Reagan’s life and presidency, there will be no books or librarians to meet you at the library’s entrance. Instead, you will walk into a beautiful foyer and be greeted by friendly docents who are excited for you to not only experience the library’s museum, but also to share their boundless knowledge with you about the life and times of Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
Students, or anyone interested in accessing the research facility of the library, can do so by making an appointment on the library’s website.
How cool is that? That students and the public can come and look through the Reagan Presidential archives! No, you’re not flipping through actual hard copy documents and papers but you are given access to the contents of those documents which at one time or another, would’ve required many levels of clearance to access if we had to guess.
Ever wondered why you go down a small flight of stairs into the Oval Office Replica? There’s a reason for that!
When the Oval Office replica was being constructed, the goal was to make it identical to the real room in the White House. However, the room’s ceiling height couldn’t be constructed to match the height of the Oval Office. It was at that point that the former president asked if they could “build down” to exactly match the height of the Oval Office; hence the reason behind the library’s Oval Office’s stair entrance.
The library is constantly under its own beautification process (as if it wasn’t stunning already!)
Ms. Giller told us that the library is constantly looking for ways to improve the library’s grounds! Whether it’s adding a beautiful Rose Garden, trimming a hedge near the entrance into the shape of an elephant, or building out into the hill as they did in 2004—the library is always looking to make their facility more aesthetically pleasing. It’s always hard to imagine because anyone who’s visited the Reagan Library will tell you that the landscapes alone are jaw-dropping to say the least.
The library is a complete education resource:
Did you know students can win a $40,000 scholarship from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and participate in amazing educational programs? Yeah, neither did we!
Turns out, the library is a HUGE resource in education for not only local students but nationally as well. Ms. Giller told us that about twenty students are selected each year to receive a $40,000 – $50,000 scholarship (What?)! In addition to that, students can also apply to win other scholarships from the foundation that are anywhere between $1,000 to $10,000 (Again, what??). If that wasn’t enough, top recipients are also able to choose a teacher that will receive a $500 grant (Insert third “What???” here).
Aside from scholarships, the library’s foundation also offers academic programs in Washington D.C.—which give students college credit—and they offer a week long leadership program that allows students to work with mentors in formulating feasible action plans for their business and community development projects. Many of these students have gone on to get grants for their works and additional scholarships.
It’s a resource for the community!
The library doesn’t want to function as solely a museum. They actually encourage visitors to come up and picnic on their lawns or grab a bite to eat at their restaurant. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy some food alongside some of the most beautiful views in the county? It’s a simple group or family outing, perfect for any weekend or summer day!
Now that you know so much about the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, you should take a visit and wow the docents with all your insider knowledge about their museum and all the good it does within the community. It’s always worth the trip to enjoy their unique exhibits and galleries!
Visit Simi Valley would like to extend a huge thank you to Ms. Melissa Giller for speaking with us and to the entire Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for welcoming us!