Where is it?
The Clinton Presidential Library is located at 1200 President Clinton Avenue in Little Rock, Arkansas.
In addition to the library, the site features:
- Clinton Presidential Park – 30-acre city park
- Anne Frank Installation – outdoor exhibit featuring a history of human rights issues
- William E. “Bill” Clark Presidential Park Wetlands – restored wetlands with a boardwalk
- Clinton Presidential Park Bridge – 1899 steel truss bridge spanning the Arkansas River as part of the 14-mile Arkansas River Trail
- Choctaw Station, Sturgis Hall – 1899 restored railroad station that houses the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and the Clinton Foundation offices
The library’s website can be accessed here.
What is it?
Presidential libraries are part museum and part archives. In 1955, Congress passed the Presidential Libraries Act which, through establishment of the libraries, preserves documents and artifacts pertaining to our presidents. The 15 current presidential libraries are overseen by a division of the National Archives and Records Administration.
Our visit to the Clinton Library actually began 112 miles southwest of Little Rock with a stop at Bill Clinton’s birthplace in the small town of Hope, Arkansas. Hope is not only famous for being President Clinton’s hometown, but it is also the hometown of former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee. Huckabee ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2008 and 2016. Actress Melinda Dillon of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “A Christmas Story” fame is from Hope too. Hope’s next biggest claim to fame is that it is the watermelon capital of Arkansas. We think that’s a pretty decent resume for a town with less than 8,800 residents.
President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site
“In this house I learned to walk and talk. I learned to pray, I learned to read, and I learned to count by number cards my grandparents tacked on the kitchen window.” ~President Clinton, Dedication Speech at the Birthplace House in 1999.
Bill Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe, III, in 1946, just three months after his father’s death in an automobile accident. He and his mother, Virginia, lived in the home with her parents until Bill was four years old. The house, which is available for ranger-guided tours, represents a typical 1940s era home.
In 1950, Virginia married Roger Clinton, Sr. who owned an auto dealership in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The couple eventually divorced but remarried shortly thereafter. Bill had adopted Roger’s last name at a young age, however, when he was fifteen years old, he formally changed his last name to Clinton out of respect for his mother’s second marriage to Roger.
Link to the website: Clinton Birthplace
The Clinton Presidential Library
One of the library’s most popular exhibits is a full-scale replica of President Clinton’s Oval Office. A replica of the historic Resolute Desk, which was given to President Rutherford B. Hayes by Queen Victoria in 1880, is the centerpiece of the exhibit. The items on the desk actually sat on President Clinton’s desk in the White House Oval Office.
Another of the library’s permanent exhibits, the Cabinet Room, is a replica of the meeting room where cabinet members as well as presidential advisors make decisions that affect our country.
Features of the library include a timeline covering the highlights of Clinton’s presidency, as well as exhibits and documents regarding domestic and foreign policy, artifacts depicting life in the White House, and thousands of other items. In all, the collection includes over 100,000 objects and artworks. Additionally, the library’s archives include: 78 million pages of official records, 20 million emails, 2 million photographs, and 12,500 videotapes.
Although we enjoyed all of the museum exhibits, our favorite was the extensive collection of gifts that were given to Bill and Hillary Clinton during his presidency. Perhaps the most notable object in the collection, though, is the 10-foot-tall Dale Chihuly blown glass sculpture, titled “Crystal Tree of Light”. Chihuly created the sculpture for the White House Millennium Celebration in 1999.
Clinton Presidential Park
While we enjoyed the Clinton Presidential Library, we absolutely loved the park surrounding it. The grounds, which abut the Arkansas River, feature paths for walking and biking. Some paths, such as the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, connect to the 14.2-mile Arkansas River Trail as well.
Additionally, the William E. “Bill” Clark Presidential Park Wetlands provides a peaceful place to walk, learn, and reflect. The 13-acre green space preserves a variety of plants and serves as a riparian wildlife habitat.
Thanks so much for joining us at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library! We are closing the post with a view of the Arkansas River.
Trivia: The McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System originates at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, Oklahoma and runs 445 miles through Oklahoma and Arkansas to the Mississippi River. While the primary waterway is the Arkansas River, the navigation system also utilizes the Verdigris River in Oklahoma, the White River in Arkansas and the Arkansas Post Canal. The Tulsa Port of Catoosa is the farthest inland port in the United States, but remarkably, it isn’t the only port in Oklahoma. The city of Muskogee also has a port on the Arkansas River.
While you’re here, check out these other exciting road trip destinations:
Strawbery Banke Museum and Portsmouth, New Hampshire
National Route 66 Museum
Annapolis, Maryland and the United States Naval Academy
Travel safely, and we will see you on the road!
Mike and Kellye
As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.