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The Obama Presidential Center

A rendering of the Obama Presidential Center campus.

The Obama Presidential Center will include a world-class museum and public gathering spaces that celebrate our nation’s first African American President and First Lady on the South Side of Chicago. President and Mrs. Obama believe that building the Obama Presidential Center is an opportunity to give back to and reinvest in the community that forever shaped their lives, values, and beliefs.

The Center was designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects + Partners, and the landscape was designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. 

When it's complete, the project will be a welcoming, vibrant campus where people from across the street or around the globe can come to get inspired, find common ground, and take action.

Obama Presidential Center Overview

City: Chicago, Illinois

Location: Jackson Park

Acreage: 19.3 acres

Estimated Opening Date: 2026

3D rendering of the Obama Presidential Center Plaza

The Obama Presidential Center campus will include a number of indoor and outdoor venues to connect, inspire, and build community, including a garden, playground, museum, signature art commissions, a Chicago Public Library branch and more. Learn more below.

The John Lewis Plaza

A graphic depiction of people walking through a tiled courtyard. Trees with flowers are along the border.

A rendering of the Obama Presidential Center’s John Lewis Plaza.

Upon arriving, visitors will be welcomed into the heart of the Center—a public plaza that serves as a place for the Foundation and our neighbors to host informal and planned gatherings alike. Anchored by public art, the Plaza will connect the Forum, Library and Museum buildings, and  be a space to  host outdoor performances, markets, and fairs, named in honor of the late civil rights leader and Congressman, John Lewis.

The Forum

A graphic depiction of people milling around a tiled courtyard in front of a long, rectangular building.

A view of The Obama Presidential Center Forum, from across the John Lewis Plaza.

The Forum building will serve as a place to welcome the local community—a commons designed to bring people together. Largely built into the landscape of Jackson Park, the Forum will feature numerous collaborative and creative spaces, including the Hadiya Pendleton Winter Garden, the Elie Wiesel Auditorium, a recording studio, flexible program rooms and a restaurant. It will also provide plenty of spaces for people to relax, eat, do their homework, or play a game of chess.

The Hadiya Pendleton Winter Garden

A graphic depiction of a people milling about a room with large windows, wood bench and tile floor.

A look inside the Forum where visitors can enjoy the Chicago winters indoors.

The Winter Garden is named in honor of Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago teen who died by gun violence shortly after participating in President Obama’s second inauguration activities with her majorette squad. The long, rectangular space spans the western face of the Forum Building with large windows that look out to the Plaza, and it includes a platform for performances and small gatherings, and spaces to sit and enjoy casual connections.

The Elie Wiesel Auditorium

A graphic rendering of an auditorium with wood tiered seating around a stage.

A rendering of the Auditorium featuring tiered seating and stage.

The Auditorium, a signature space at the Center and also located in the Forum, is named in honor of Holocaust survivor and political activist, Elie Wiesel. Inspired by programming in the East Room of the White House during the Obama Presidency, the Auditorium is where the arts and humanities will come to life and dynamic speakers and performers from the South Side of Chicago, across the country, and around the world will reach the world.

The Museum

A rendering depiction of the Plaza at the Obama Presidential Center.

The Museum building will be a new landmark for the South Side, welcoming visitors to Jackson Park and marking the Center as an historic civic destination. The Museum building design embodies the 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.

Inside, exhibits will explore the fullness of the American story—from the promise of our founding documents to the movements that challenged us to live up to them. Visitors will explore the stories of the volunteers who powered the campaign toward history, and examine the eight years of progress, setback, and hope that followed.

Help Preserve History

The Barack Obama Foundation is actively seeking materials for acquisition consideration and potential display at the Obama Presidential Center Museum on Chicago’s South Side.

Chicago Public Library Branch

A rendering of the Library at the Obama Presidential Center.

A rendering of the Obama Presidential Center’s branch of the Chicago Public Library.

A new branch of the Chicago Public Library will feature interactive digital media spaces and amenities for children, informational and vocational resources for adults, and a reading room for all to enjoy. This unique partnership is the first of its kind and will provide almost every South Side resident with access to a public library within walking distance. 

World-renowned artist and Chicago native Richard Hunt’s “Book Bird” sculpture will be placed in the garden outside of the new Chicago Public Library branch on the Obama Presidential Center campus.

The Eleanor Roosevelt Fruit & Vegetable Garden

An animation shows people ranging of all ages and skin tones, enjoying the Obama Presidential Center

Similar to the garden that Mrs. Obama planted at the White House, this one will be a place where young people and community members can get their hands dirty and learn about growing fruits and vegetables—and there will even be a few bee hives for honey.

Home Court

A rendering of the Programs & Athletic center
A rendering of the Programs & Athletic center

Anchoring the southwest corner of our campus in Jackson Park, Home Court at the Obama Presidential Center will serve as a place for active community engagement and enrichment.

As one of several hubs at the Presidential Center, this 45,000 square foot multipurpose space will act as a venue for a variety of youth and adult programming, professional conferences, and community events for organizations. Learn more.

An animated rendering of artist Maya Lin's sculpture for the Obama Presidential Center's Ann Dunham Water Garden. A round stone with water trickling across the surface and over the edges is surrounded by a young girl and a young woman gazing at it. In the background, a circular stone has a hole in the center, showing people of various ages and skin tones walking and talking. The entire sculpture is in a wooded area.

The Ann Dunham Water Garden

The Water Garden will include a stone sculptural water feature from world renowned artist and architect, Maya Lin–best known for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The piece is titled “Seeing Through the Universe.”

The Wetland Walk

A rendering of the Obama Presidential Center Wetland Walk, showcasing a variety of native plant species and gathering area.

A graphic rendering of a garden with lush flowering plants, tall trees and stone walkways around a small pond. People are milling about.
A rendering of the Playground, featuring play structures and fun for all ages.

The Playground

The Playground will feature a giant playscape with innovative recreation equipment for children of all ages. The design of the playground celebrates the natural environment of Jackson Park, with lagoon and woodland-themed features to stir imaginations and encourage exploration.

The Great Lawn

The Great Lawn is a place for sledding in the winter, picnics in the summer, and to gather for movies in the park. The gentle slope of the site offers opportunities for activities year-round, and it will be the perfect place to get a view of Jackson Park’s beautiful lagoons.

A rendering of the Great Lawn shows a movie night in the park with a large crowd gathered at dusk.

More About the Obama Presidential Center