What Can We Expect From the Barack Obama Presidential Library?

It's scheduled to open in 2025

Barack Obama
Barack Obama, former President of the United States, speaks at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit on June 10, 2022 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Ole Jensen/Getty Images

Presidential libraries vary dramatically, depending on the president in question. Over the course of researching a book about political signs, I had reason to interact with the staff of several. (The Eisenhower Presidential Library was especially helpful.) Some libraries focus on the legacies of their namesake; others abound with historical items that offer insight into their lives and times.

What, then, can we expect from the presidential library for the nation’s 44th head of state? The website for the Barack Obama Presidential Library currently houses abundant archives from Obama’s time in office. As for the forthcoming physical space, it will be included as part of a larger project — the Obama Presidential Center, which broke ground in Chicago last year.

In a recent interview with ARTnews, Louise Bernard, the director of the museum set to open there, offered an update on what to expect. Bernard confirmed that the Center is now scheduled to open in 2025.

“The 19-acre campus consists of the Museum building, which is a vertical structure; the Forum building, which is where all the multipurpose programming spaces will be; and a branch of the Chicago Public Library,” Bernard told ARTnews. “The construction will take place holistically at once.”

From what Bernard said in the interview, the museum will house a host of historical items from the Obama administration, as well as a replica of the Oval Office. The institution also plans to house temporary exhibits in what Bernard described as a “special exhibits gallery on the lowest level of the museum building.”

“It will be an opportunity to either take an exhibition that has been on view somewhere else or just continue borrowing objects from various institutions over time,” she added. It’s a destination years in the making.

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