A $30 million White House educational center will open next year
The White House Historical Association (WHHA) is opening next fall a $30 million interactive educational center about the White House and its history.
Why it matters: It'll give guests a glimpse into otherwise off-limits spaces, plus serve as a proxy tour for those unable to snag tickets to the actual Executive Mansion, WHHA president Stewart McLaurin tells Axios.
State of play: The People's House: A White House Experience will include a full-sized Oval Office replica, an immersive Rose Garden re-creation, and a tech-fueled cutaway model of the White House.
- The 33,000-square-foot, three-story building will sit a block away at 1700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
By the numbers: The White House sees around 500,000 visitors annually, but most don't get to check out spaces like the Oval Office. The WHHA estimates its center will attract 300,000 tourists and locals per year.
Details: The second floor will contain a series of galleries with educational exhibits.
- One will tell the stories of the workers like chefs, florists, plumbers, and electricians who keep the White House running.
- Others will be more experiential, such as a life-sized Cabinet Room replica that digitally morphs into different presidential Cabinet meetings throughout history — think JFK's Cabinet discussing the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- There will also be an exhibit about the enslaved people who helped build the White House, born in part out of requests that flooded the WHHA after then-First Lady Michelle Obama addressed this fact during the 2016 Democratic convention, says McLaurin.
The building will also have classrooms and event spaces on the third floor, plus a 1,500-square-foot gift shop. (Hello, White House Christmas ornaments!)
What they're saying: "It's not a museum," says McLaurin. "[It's] going to be a learning and teaching laboratory."
- Because the space will be so technology-based (think virtual reality and holograms), it'll be constantly updated to reflect current events and shifting presidential administrations.
Of note While tickets will be free, visitors will have to sign up for timed entries.
- The building will be completely funded by the WHHA, not the government — meaning it can remain open during a shutdown.
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