November 17, 2020
It’s been tough for anyone to get an up-close and personal look at presidential history during 2020. From FDR’s family home in Hyde Park, New York, to Ronald Reagan’s commemorative exhibition space in Simi Valley, California, all 13 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sadly, for folks who like to absorb history in person, we’ll likely see fewer brick-and-mortar presidential libraries in the future, Forbes reports. Four years since the 44th president left office, the all-digital Barack Obama Presidential Library isn’t fully open yet. And, while it takes a lot of time to digitize hundreds of thousands of records, NARA supports the digital model chosen by Obama going forward.
Now, considering his reluctance to read, you wouldn’t think that President Donald Trump’s first priority would be a library for posterity. But search the internet for Donald Trump Presidential Library and you will find a shiny new website already achieving killer first-page ranking on Google, Forbes says.
Sleekly rendered in WordPress using the classy Musea theme, with an elegant gray Garamond typeface and all-white backdrop, djtrumplibrary.com looks and feels like many beautiful museum portals. That is, until you start poking around.
The website invites Americans to explore the COVID Memorial, where a quiet reflecting pool lets visitors “mourn the thousands dead under his lack of leadership.” Oh.
Decorated with “Make America Great Again” signs and Confederate flags, the Alt-Right Auditorium is hosting a movie series including Nazi propaganda and Birth of a Nation. “A silent film which represents the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) as a heroic force necessary to preserve American values and a white supremacist social order,” touts the site, along with a special promo: “2 for 1 tickets available for White Supremacy Wednesday!”
While the project began as the brainchild of a small New York City architecture practice that wishes to remain anonymous, the team quickly “gained an army of curators, writers, designers, and general trouble-makers,” according to the site’s FAQ page.
As satirical spoof sites go, this is top of the line, chock full of custom artwork and clever Easter eggs. Take the library’s physical address at 1 MAGA Lane in Nogales, Arizona. The street is fictional, of course, but Nogales is a real border city that’s been central to Trump’s “build the wall” promise.
And check out the price of admission. Kids and students are free, while there’s a three-tiered structure for adults: $10 for seniors, $25 for U.S. citizens and $50 for immigrants.
Presidential libraries are known for museum-quality exhibits that show off their respective administrations’ accomplishments. Think John F. Kennedy’s Space Program Exhibit, LBJ’s Social Justice Gallery and Reagan’s Berlin Wall Exhibit.
At the faux Donald J. Trump Presidential Library website, permanent exhibits include Tax Evasion 101, where letters spelling “tax paid $750” rise from the floor in bas-relief. There’s a Twitter gallery, of course, as well as a Wall of Criminality that draws lines from Trump to some of his numerous alleged misdeeds.
No doubt, Trump critics will enjoy taking this unflattering virtual tour of his presidency. But while the site is layered with plenty of snark, its take-away is somehow not gleeful, Forbes notes.
For a reminder of why so few Americans are traveling these days, head to the rooftop COVID Cemetery, where an old tweet from Trump supporter Herman Cain, who died of Covid-19, has been blown up to billboard size. It reads, “It looks like the virus is not as deadly as the mainstream media first made it out to be.”
Research contact: @Forbes