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Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum

Independence, MO

The staff of the Truman Presidential Library and Museum wanted to completely rethink the themes, ideas, and design of the museum, for which Monadnock had previously designed and produced the media exhibits in 2000. Working from conceptual design through installation with the museum team and Gallagher and Associates, we did just that. The new permanent exhibit, “Harry S. Truman: An Ordinary Man, His Extraordinary Journey” presents this Midwestern farm boy who never went to college and his remarkable rise to President of the United States. The museum’s ultimate goal is that future generations will come to understand both the possibilities and the responsibilities of American citizenship.

In over 35 multimedia exhibits, Monadnock helped tell Truman’s story, highlighting the perennial issues and themes from Truman’s presidency that still impact the world today.

"This has to be the best museum of its kind around. And it doesn't seek to rewrite history. The interactive displays are outstanding."


Designer
Gallagher and Associates
Size
14,000 sq. ft.
Components
35

Roles
  • Media Master Planning
  • Media Design
  • Production
  • A/V System Design
  • Tech Systems Oversight
  • Installation

Featured Components

Intro Theater
An Unlikely President

This immersive and impressionistic experience introduces visitors to Truman as an unlikely president. In the museum’s first gallery, projected imagery of war and its devastation moves from left to right across a large curving wall, reinforcing the sweeping nature of the program and fully enveloping visitors. Quotes, both read and written, establish the cloud of doubt that surrounded Truman when he took office. Viewers leave the gallery intrigued and curious to learn more about Truman’s background and the challenges he faced when he assumed the presidency after FDR’s death.

Experiential Multi-Player Interactive
Truman’s Loyalty-Security Program

In this interactive, we expose visitors to both the legitimate concerns and the paranoia of the postwar Red Scare. Players quickly come to realize how circumstantial evidence has – and continues to be – used in profiling people as potential threats. For Truman, the federal Loyalty-Security Program challenged him to figure out where to draw the line between national security and individual liberty, a question that still resonates today.

Immersive Theater
The Cold War

Building on the foundation that has been laid in the previous galleries, the program presents the growing unease and distrust between the Soviets and the Allies and sheds light onto Truman’s character — the deliberate and considered approach he took as he tried to contain communism. Visitors enter an area that resembles a section of a destroyed European city. The crumbling debris and rubble litters the street; lighting effects embedded in the structures amplify the drama. Flat sections of rubble serve as the main projection areas. The shape of Europe is hidden in the rubble and revealed at key moments in the program to show the geography of the region and the spread of Russia’s influence across Eastern Europe.