Why Hoover?
Why Now?

The Campaign for The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Museum

“How can our distinguished research institution better tell the stories of the Great Humanitarian? We fail if people come through and leave in the same frame of mind. We succeed when people leave pondering what they saw. That’s the essence of history: memory.”
— Tom Schwartz, Director, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

Children exclaiming “How cool!” as they comb through books and clothing inside vintage suitcases that traveled the world.

Adults exchanging “I had no idea!” glances as they scan posters and view movie clips of history left out of textbooks.

Multi-generational families brainstorming volunteer projects they want to bring to their communities.

What does it take for an ordinary afternoon activity to become extraordinary — one that stays in the hearts and minds of every participant?

Herbert Hoover, 31st U.S. President

A mining engineer, humanitarian, statesman, and the 31st U.S. President, Herbert Hoover embodied the values of honesty, leadership, and generosity. Born and laid to rest in West Branch, Iowa, Herbert, together with his wife, Lou Henry, was unwavering in his efforts to put others’ needs ahead of his own, including feeding the hungry, clothing the impoverished, and providing medical supplies to struggling countries. The Hoovers’ remarkable life story of philanthropy and service is often clouded by the Great Depression that gripped the economy during the presidency, yet the prescient ideals they lived and led by have never been more critical to impart.

The world is rapidly changing—and while the Hoovers’ values remain everlasting, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum’s aging exhibits have not withstood the test of time. Nearly 30 years since its previous renovation, and the last of the 13 National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) presidential museums to be updated in recent history, the museum is long overdue for modernized exhibitions that effectively tell the story of the Great Humanitarian.

The Hoover Presidential Foundation celebrates and recommits to the example of President and Lou Henry Hoover through our ambitions for a revitalized museum. The Foundation’s visionary plan for a modern, engaging visitor experience calls for visionary philanthropy totaling $20 million. The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum encourages research and provides a narrative of the life and presidency of Herbert Hoover and Lou Henry Hoover and their contemporaries upon the American experience and beyond through educational and outreach programs, exhibits, website, social media, and partnering with stakeholders in the global Hoover legacy. We protect, preserve, and provide access to the records and artifacts entrusted to our care.

More than keepers of objects, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum (HHPLM) shares the story of Herbert and Lou Henry’s global legacy, which is just as powerful as those built by the most recognized presidential families. The Hoovers’ principles of integrity, hard work, simplicity, and generosity guided them throughout their lives of service to the nation and the world. The pair were change- makers driven by values that transcend politics—in fact, much of their influential work was achieved in the years before and after the presidency.

Believing that every individual should have the opportunity to rise to the level of their talents and ambitions, Herbert and Lou Henry earnestly worked on behalf of others. Among their achievements of incomparable magnitude was food relief for millions of starving people across the globe during and after the two world wars.

With a commitment to sharing the largely unknown stories of the Hoovers and to inspiring others to advocate for positive change in their own communities, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum opened its doors on August 10, 1962—Herbert Hoover’s 88th birthday.

Located in West Branch on the grounds of the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, which is also home to Herbert’s two-room birthplace cottage and gravesite, HHPLM underwent a remodel and expansion 30 years ago. Though the values of President and First Lady Hoover are evergreen, the then contemporary exhibits no longer adequately tell the Hoovers’ quintessential American story. The HHPLM experience must evolve in step with the expectations of today’s museum-goers.