Rendezvous With History - Destination Hyde ParkThe Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center

Now Open!

The Roosevelt Legacy moved into the 21st century on Saturday, November 15, 2003 with the opening of the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center in Hyde Park, New York. Archivist of the United States John Carlin formally dedicated the new Wallace Center and Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize winning author, historian, and frequent television commentator, delivered the keynote address on FDR's leadership. The West Point Glee Club also performed during the dedication.

The Center is a public-private project designed to serve students, teachers, and the visiting public at the Roosevelt Presidential Library and the sites administered by the National Park Service in Hyde Park - the Roosevelt Home, Eleanor Roosevelt's cottage (Val-Kill), FDR's Retirement Retreat, Top Cottage, and Vanderbilt Mansion.

The Center's magnificent architecture, first class visitor facilities, bold new exhibits, and a state-of- the-art High Definition orientation video will provide a totally new experience for our visitors.

Named in honor of the man who served as Secretary of Agriculture (1933-1940) and Vice-President during Franklin Roosevelt's third term, the Henry A. Wallace Center offers visitors an array of new and expanded services designed to enhance their experiences in Hyde Park. For the more than 125,000 visitors to the Roosevelt Library and National Historic Site, the Center now provides for the first time a comprehensive introduction to the historic complex of Roosevelt properties. Facilities will include orientation exhibits and a new High Definition film called "A Rendezvous with History: The Roosevelts of Hyde Park" to welcome the public to the "world of the Roosevelts." In addition to their introduction to the Library and Home, visitors will also be able to buy tickets and receive information about Val-Kill and Top Cottage. The new building also offers multipurpose rooms designed for conferences, school groups, and special programs; a café; state-of-the-art audio-visual facilities; an auditorium and a new museum store. The architectural design, created by the New York firm of Kliment and Halsband, is based upon the simple lines of early Dutch Buildings in the Hudson River Valley. FDR loved that style of architecture and designed his Presidential Library to reflect colonial Dutch influence.

The Wallace Center is operated by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, in an innovative partnership with the National Park Service. The private non-profit Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI) has been instrumental in raising private support for both the Wallace Center and Top Cottage which opened to the public in 2001. FERI will host an ambitious program of national and international scholarly conferences and public policy activities in the new Center. Federal funding for the project has been provided through both the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the National Park Service, with each agency securing $8 million in congressional appropriations. The Roosevelt Library and Museum is one of NARA's eleven presidential libraries. The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute raised $4 million for the construction.

These are exciting times in Hyde Park. They are also historic times. For the dedication of the Henry A. Wallace Center allows us to continue in the 21st century Roosevelt's own vision for vital educational historical institutions dedicated to giving Americans the tools they need to govern a democracy.

Along with construction of the Wallace Center, the original Library building has been renovated to create a new 3,000 square foot special exhibit gallery. That gallery is named for long-time president and chairman of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, William J. vanden Heuvel. The Vanden Heuvel Gallery will feature a schedule of exciting exhibitions drawn from public and private collections worldwide as well as traveling exhibits from the nation's top museums. The first exhibition, is drawn from the Museum's varied collection and includes the story of how the Roosevelt Library came to be.

The building dedication took place Saturday, November 15 at 2:30 PM. Hosted by the Archivist of the United States, former Governor of Kansas, John Carlin, top officials from the National Park Service and leaders from the Roosevelt Institute, Home and Library joined the Roosevelt and Wallace families-and the general public-in dedicating this new facility to its high purposes. As the first new structure to be added to the Roosevelt estate since construction of the Roosevelt Library in 1941, those gathered recalled FDR's original Dedication Speech:

"The dedication of a Library is in itself an act of faith. To bring together the records of the past and . . . preserve them for the use of men and women living in the future, a nation must believe in three things. It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgement for the creation of the future."

As a magnet for heritage tourism and economic development throughout the Hudson Valley, the Wallace Center will make a substantial contribution towards enhancing the region's $600 million tourism industry. Recent studies show that tourists to the Hudson Valley care most deeply about visiting our historic sites and enjoying the bounties of nature. The Wallace Center helps both visitors and the local community enjoy more of Hyde Park's already strong assets in these areas.

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