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The Obama Foundation and NARA Announce New Details on Obama Presidential Center Structure and Operations

May 3, 2017 at 11:55 AM CDT

Today, the Obama Foundation announced new details on the operational structure of the Obama Presidential Center and, in coordination with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), a new model for the preservation and accessibility of the Obama Administration’s presidential records.

The Obama Presidential Center will be built in Jackson Park on the South Side of Chicago.  It will be a working center for citizenship, telling the story of the Obama Administration and inspiring people and communities to take on challenges and create change in their own communities – at home and across the globe. 

First Digital Archives for the First Digital President 

For the first time in history, all of the unclassified paper records from the administration will be digitized soon after the end of the administration.  This will help NARA, which retains ongoing control over presidential records, make the records more easily accessible to the public.  In making this decision, the Obama Foundation is prioritizing providing NARA with digital archives to serve historians and scholars, instead of building a Presidential Library to hold the paper records.

NARA will then provide access to the Obama Presidential records virtually.  As NARA releases records to the public, the Obama Foundation will be able to use them in support of an active experience for young people, families, local citizens, and visitors to Chicago from around the world.  Instead of being housed at the Presidential Center, NARA will preserve and protect the paper records in a separate NARA facility.

A New Operational Partnership

NARA and the Obama Foundation have formed an important partnership to ensure the records and legacy of the Obama Presidency are not just preserved for future generations, but will also be made broadly accessible as they are released to the public.  At the request of the Obama Foundation, and with the agreement of NARA, the Obama Foundation will build, own and operate the museum portion of the Obama Presidential Center as a private museum.  The Obama Foundation is currently recruiting a Museum Director and will have more details on the selection in the coming weeks.