For More Details
For recorded information about the library and museum, call 1-800-833-1225 or visit online.
Also read: Turbulent times,
bold decisions
Also read: Living history

Before You Go
To plan your trip, stop by your nearest AAA service office for maps, TripTiks and TourBook guides. Or, go to our online Auto Travel section.

The buck stops in Independence
Renovated Truman Presidential Museum and Library recalls Missouri’s favorite son

By Jinny Ravenscroft Danzer
Published: Jan/Feb 2002

A detailed re-creation of the Oval Office during Truman’s presidency is a highlight of the museum . /©Michael C. Snell photo.
Illinois is known as the Land of Lincoln, but Missouri’s presidential profile is tied to the wiry, straight-talking Harry S. Truman. If you want to get to know our 33rd president better, the Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum and Library in Independence is the place to do it.

The museum showcases the nearly eight-year Truman presidency, from the end of World War II and the dropping of the atomic bomb to the beginning of the Cold War and the Berlin Airlift.

Inside the spacious lobby, admire handsome mural, “Independence and the Opening of the West” by Thomas Hart Benton. Wagon trains, settlers, trappers and American Indians work and move across the colorful scene. According to the tour guide, Truman climbed the scaffolding to add a touch of paint to the sky, quipping that now he had shown Benton how to paint the mural.

The doorway beneath the mural leads to exhibits, while theaters off the lobby and gift shop present films on Truman and the White House. The documentary “Harry S. Truman: 1884-1972” makes a good introduction to the museum. Then visit the exhibits with a tour guide or explore independently. If you’re lucky, you might catch presidential impersonator Neil Johnson portray Truman during a press conference or monologue. (See related story.)

The White House Gallery details a typical day in the life of the president. A famous desk plaque containing one of this Missouri-born president’s favorite slogans, “The buck stops here,” is behind glass in the gallery.

A detailed reconstruction of the Oval Office in 1950 contains period furnishings, authentic desk accessories and pictures, and an early television set like one used by Truman. Outside in the courtyard are the graves of Truman and his wife, Bess. At the far end of the courtyard, look into the office where Truman worked after he left the presidency.

The lower floor of the museum exhibits some of the objects from the library’s collection of 15 million pages of documents and some 35,000 artifacts. It includes gifts like ceremonial swords from heads of state, a 1:48-scale brass model of the USS Missouri, and a large model of the Truman home, located nearby. It also displays four vintage automobiles used by the Trumans.

A $22.5 million renovation has created a major new exhibit, “Harry S. Truman: The Presidential Years.” It features two decision theaters with interactive elements.

Another new exhibit scheduled to open in 2003 is “Harry S. Truman: The Life and Times.” Based primarily on the many letters exchanged between Harry and Bess, it will display objects from the Truman Library collection and present the personal side of the Truman family.

Temporary exhibits for the year 2002 include “Flash! The Associated Press Covers the World,” June 9–July 28.

Hours for the museum are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday–Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday (on Thursday, the museum is open until 9 p.m.). Admission is $5 for adults, $4.50 for seniors and $3 for children 6–18.

For more informaiton, also read: Turbulent times, bold decisions and Living history

Contents may not be reproduced in whole or in part unless expressly authorized in writing by AAA Traveler Magazines.