Plans for a major addition and some other changes to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and Library were announced Friday morning. This comes as the museum prepares to celebrate the President's 100th birthday in 2013.
President Ford always envisioned the museum to go "wall-less." His son, Steve Ford, says he always envisioned the museum to be a living, educational experience for kids, not just a memorial.
But, to do that, the museum needs to upgrade it's technology, which hasn't been done since 1997. The museum wants to make a significant number of historical documents from the library in Ann Arbor, available online.
"We just need to do more to supplment the local school districts in West Michigan," said Steve Ford, son of former President Ford. "It would help to teach civics and leadership and character."
There will be a 10,500-square-foot addition, of a student learning center and interactive exhibits. It includes new technology that should allow the museum and library to be accessed from anywhere. The foundation is working with the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University on the curriculum.
"We've never had classrooms here and now we will," said Ford. "We have thousands of students every year, but now we'll be able to sit them down and work with teachers and teach students what being a good citizen means."
The Gerald R. Ford Board of Trustees announced a $15 million capital campaign that will pay for the costs of the project. More than $10 million of it has already been pledged, and the fundraising phase of the campaign should be completed in the spring.