The Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library Is Totally Engrossing And A Little Bizarre


young nixon nixon museum

Rob Wile/Business Insider

Starting with Herbert Hoover, every American president has established libraries and museums to preserve their legacies - and to tell their side of the story.


Richard Nixon is no exception. Just a few miles south of Los Angeles sits the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library and museum, a sprawling complex created by his foundation and administered by the National Archives.

During a recent trip out west, we stopped by to see how America's most controversial president asked to be remembered.

Click here to take the tour >

After the trip, we spoke with Bob Bostock, a consultant to the foundation and co-author of most of the museum's exhibits.


The other author was Nixon himself, he told us.

Bostock says no presidential museum is designed to be impartial, but is rather an opportunity to tell a president's story from his own perspective.

One could argue that the distinction is not quite so clear cut. There are no disclaimers saying where the foundation ends and the National Archives begins.

Bostock says the Watergate section of the museum, produced by the National Archives and not the foundation, is arguably too anti-Nixon. The foundation ceded control of that section when the Archives took control of the museum in 2007, he says, though he wanted us to emphasize that the relationship between the Archives and the foundation is otherwise cordial.

"I don't think anyone goes in to see exhibits that are harshly critical of that particular president," he said, noting there are plenty of other places to look to find critical voices.


No one, he argued, should go in to a presidential library with the assumption that they are getting an official history.

"We don't have that in this country," he said.