The National Park Service announced yesterday that the White House Visitor Center will close at 4:00 pm this Sunday, July 22 for rehabilitation. The closure is expected to last up to 15 months. The upgrade, a partnership between the National Parks Service and the White House Historical Association, has been in the works since 2005, and funding has come from both private and public sources, including national park visitor fees.
Ann Smith, a representative of the National Parks Service, stressed the sensitivity with which the project would treat the historic architectural setting of the center, located in Baldridge Hall of the Herbert Hoover Building. At the same time, when completed, this will be a "whole new visitor experience," she says, with exhibits focused on four major aspects of the White House: home, office, ceremonial setting, and museum. Elements of the project include new interactive exhibits, a temporary exhibit space, a new theater, a model of the White House, and a permanent museum. The bookstore and other spaces will be upgraded as well.
"Visitors who tour the White House and those who view it from the surrounding area will soon have the opportunity to learn about the history of the White House like never before," said NPS Regional Director Stephen E. Whitesell in a statement to the press. "The National Park Service and the White House Historical Association are excited about making the story of one of our nation's most important icons accessible to all in new ways, especially to the young people and children who visit Washington, D.C. or call it home."
While the Visitor Center at Baldridge Hall is closed, visitors can utilize a temporary building opening July 28 at Ellipse Visitor Pavilion (corner of 15th Street and E Street NW).
The Visitor Center has been open since 1995 and is operated by the National Park Service.
Photo credits: Courtesy of the National Park Service