Obama Foundation Annual Report 2018

The Obama Presidential Center Museum building’s northern facade

The Obama Presidential Center Museum

From their days supporting communities on the South Side of Chicago to the structure of their campaigns to the way they sought to lead, President and Mrs. Obama have always believed that change happens from the bottom up. The Obama Presidential Center Museum, from its design to its exhibits, will be no different.

The architecture of the Museum building echoes this idea of ascension—of a movement upward from the grassroots. Its form is inspired by the idea of four hands coming together, a recognition that many hands shape a place. Like these hands, each facade of the four-sided building will be a little different from the next, providing a unique but engaging view from each angle. The building will serve as a historic landmark in Jackson Park, welcoming visitors to the South Side and the Center.

The Exhibit Galleries

The core Exhibit Galleries of the Museum will also emphasize the grassroots nature of President Obama’s path to the presidency, framed within a larger story of American democracy. The first exhibit level will focus on the historic precedents that made Barack Obama’s election possible—our nation’s founding ideals, the leaders and movements that challenged us to live up to them, and Chicago’s own prominent role in the expansion of civil rights and community engagement.

Subsequent exhibit levels will focus on the President and First Lady’s eight years in the White House, featuring dynamic exhibits about the events, policies, challenges, and accomplishments of the Obama presidency, rooted in the larger, complex discussion about democracy and the role of government that our nation has been having since its founding. The final exhibit level will also describe the work President and Mrs. Obama have led since leaving the White House, and will inspire visitors to push for change within their own communities.

The Museum experience will also include a view of life in the White House, with a full-scale replica of the Oval Office, along with a range of authentic artifacts from the Administration. A special Exhibit Gallery on the Garden Level will feature a changing series of installations that expand on the Museum’s core themes and encourage visitors to return again and again.

The Museum Exhibit Gallery will feature a full-scale replica of the Oval Office.
The form of the Museum building was inspired by the idea of four hands coming together.

The Sky Room

Once visitors have completed their journey through the four levels of the Museum, they will be invited to take an elevator to the Sky Room on the top level of the Museum building. The Sky Room will offer visitors a space to reflect, with extraordinary panoramic views of Lake Michigan to the East, the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago to the North, and the South Side of Chicago to the West and South. The Sky Room will be free and open to the public and can be enjoyed as a standalone experience without a Museum ticket

The Garden Level

Visitors are then invited to descend to the public Garden Level where they will have an opportunity to share their own stories and to connect with other people’s submissions through a series of interactive programs. Visitors will also be encouraged to commit to engaging within their own communities, finding ways they can make a difference after leaving the Obama Presidential Center and returning home. The Garden Level will also feature a retail shop and café, connect to the Forum and its public programming, and link to several outdoor courtyards designed for both social interaction and quiet contemplation. The retail shop will feature unique Obama Presidential Center merchandise like t-shirts and tote bags, as well as books important to President and Mrs. Obama, and products from local Chicago artisans and businesses.

The café will feature coffee from local roasters, honey gathered from onsite beehives, and sandwiches and salads with fresh ingredients from the Center’s Fruit and Vegetable Garden.

The Obama Presidential Center Obama Presidential Center: The Forum