ABILENE — Travelers, history enthusiasts or even families looking for a quick day trip don't have to hold off until July to visit the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home.
But it might be worth the wait.
While the library and 22-acre campus commemorating Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, remains open year round, the museum is closed for a major renovation project.
Temporary exhibits are located in the library directly north of the museum. But the main attraction clearly will be the completely revamped 25,000 square feet of exhibit space in the museum building.
"The entire museum of the Eisenhower Presidential Library will be new this summer," said Samantha Kenner, communications director for the library and museum. "The comprehensive redesign will reveal Ike and Mamie's story in their own words. New interactive features will encourage guests to engage with the exhibits and find relevance in their own lives."
One interactive feature tells the story of "Becoming Ike and Mamie," and will offer insights into Eisenhower's military career. Several mini-theaters will present Eisenhower's words on several issues, from D-Day to world peace.
The plan had been to reopen the museum in June for the annual D-Day commemoration, but the recent government shutdown pushed back completion of the project to July.
For those who can't fit a July visit into their schedules, there remains plenty of attractions available, with four of the five buildings — Library, Eisenhower's boyhood home, Place of Meditation and Visitors Center — still open.
The library, dedicated in 1962 and opened for research in 1966, is one of 13 presidential libraries administered by National Archives and Research Administration. The research facility draws scholars and history buffs from around the world and features 26 million pages of historical records and papers, 768,000 feet of motion picture film, 335,000 photos and 28,550 books.
The Place of Meditation was built in 1966, and President Eisenhower was buried there on April 2, 1969. His wife, Mamie, and first-born son Doud, also are buried there.
Eisenhower's boyhood home is located east of the Visitors Center, and regular guided tours are available.
The Visitors Center, on the west end of the campus, is located on the site of the former Lincoln School, where Eisenhower first enrolled as an elementary student. It houses the gift shop and an auditorium where a film on the former president is shown on a regular schedule.
Other attractions include a stature of Eisenhower in the middle of the campus between the library and museum, and The Pylons on the east end. The five Pylons monuments were a project of the Kansas Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in cooperation with the Soroptimists International clubs.
Even though the museum renovation won't be completed by June, the D-Day commemoration remains an annual highlight. The library will observe a special D-Day 75th Anniversary Commemoration Week this summer starting June 1 with a program featuring the Salina Symphony performing during the Symphony at Sunset concert.
There will be educational programs, films and discussions throughout the week, wrapping up on Thursday, June 6, with the Remembrance Ceremony and wreath laying honoring General Eisenhower and all veterans.