I’d never been to a Presidential Library before even though the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley isn’t far away. Being an unapologetic liberal, it hadn’t occurred to me to check it out. Doug and I had seen commercials for the “Vatican Splendors” exhibit that was temporarily being displayed there and it sparked our interest. We had visited the Vatican in Rome but this exhibit had items aren’t displayed there. Due to popular demand, the exhibition was extended a few weeks and after missing several opportunities, we finally got there on the last day.
Our Arrival at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
The main lot was full because everyone else had probably waited until the last minute too, so we had to park pretty far down the hill. Luckily, a shuttle service picked us up and took us to the entrance. There, we were greeted by old Ronnie himself riding his horse.
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As we stood in line to see the exhibit, we passed by statues of both Ronnie and Nancy with an inspiring quote over their heads.
“America’s best days are yet to come. Our proudest moments are yet to be. Our most glorious achievements are just ahead.” ~ Ronald Reagan
Well, let’s hope.
Ronnie was a good orator, that’s for sure. But then, he was also the President of the Screen Actors Guild, of which I am a member.
The Presidential Library Grounds
If you go outside in the back of the library, you’ll see a section of the Berlin wall sitting in the sun. As you may remember, Ronald Reagan was President when the wall was taken down.
We also visited the memorial and graves of the former President and First Lady. I swear I could feel the Earth shake a bit. Ronnie was probably grumbling about the current election. I don’t think he’d approve.
The rear lawn of the Presidential Library and its view of Simi Valley is stunning.
The Oval Office circa the 1980s
Here is the Oval Office as it was when Reagan was President.
De Plane Boss – De Plane!
One of the highlights of the Reagan Presidential Library is Ronald Reagan’s Air Force One. It sits in a huge hanger with a vast windowed wall.
We were able to walk through it to see what it looked like back then. Jelly beans were everywhere.
We also went inside Ronnie’s helicopter. As we entered both the plane and the helicopter, a photographer was on hand to snap photos of us that we could buy when we got off. We didn’t. It would have been weird.
Some of the cars President Reagan rode in were also on display.
There’s a pub called “The Ronald Reagan” beneath the plane where we had a beer and a sandwich in honor of his Irish heritage.
I love this photo of Ronnie made out of jelly beans.
Vatican Splendors – The exhibit
I was impressed by how quickly we were herded through the line into the Vatican Splendors exhibition.
“You are about to discover a world much imagined but little known: the Vatican.”
“Beginning at the tomb of Peter, the exhibition chronicles centuries of creation and evolution of the magnificent Basilica of Saint Peter’s as well as the history of the many pontiffs that came after Peter, the first Pope of the Church. Every object in the exhibition tells its own story and together they combine to form a great mosaic of the history of the Church.”
Being a Jew who was once married to a Catholic, hence the last name Olkowski, I’m not much of a scholar in Catholic history, but have always had an interest in learning about the world’s religions.
Below are just a few of the artifacts we saw at the Vatican Splendor’s exhibit. (Click on images to view full-size)
We moved through too fast to fully describe everything we saw but it was impressive. I wish I could say it will be in a town near you, but all of the artifacts have been sent back to the Vatican.
Since we were on a time crunch to be elsewhere, we didn’t have enough time to see the permanent exhibits. But since the Presidential Library is so close we can do that another day.
If you’re ever near Simi Valley, make sure to visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and stay awhile.