Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum

Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Adults $10
Seniors, active/retired military and college students $5 Children 6 to 15 $3
Children 5 and under free.

Hoover Presidential Foundation members, free.

I-80 exit 254, just two blocks north of the exit.West Branch, IA 52358
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The Making of the Great Humanitarian:
Herbert Hoover and World War I


The Making of the Great Humanitarian: Herbert Hoover and World War I

The indoor exhibit has been help-over through Jan. 3! Many people know Herbert Hoover as the depression era President. For more than a few, that’s where their knowledge ends. As interested parties of the Hoover Presidential Foundation and its board of trustees, we know Hoover as the 31st president; the man who fed the starving people of Belgium and Northern France during World War I, and the man who fed the world after the war.

These accomplishments include the stories we need to reintroduce to a new generation hungry for role models who represent positive change and leadership in a global community. Hoover’s story shows the power of one: what one individual can do to change the world.

By using the centennial anniversary of WWI (August 4, 2014), we will be able to reintroduce Herbert Hoover to the general public, using immersive techniques that recreate historic spaces that allow the public to touch and experience what it was like to be a stranded American overseas, a foot soldier in the trenches or a starving Belgian child who received a hot meal in school through Hoover’s Commission for Relief in Belgium.

About the Exhibit

The exhibit will include five key components that will offer immersive and interactive engagement to tell the story of what it was like in Europe during the Great War.

World War I Trench
World War I, the Great War, was as brutal on the civilians as it was on the soldiers. We propose to recreate a WWI battle trench inside the museum which utilizes immersion technologies to give exhibit viewers a sensation of being on the battle field. Remote sensors will activate sound effects, puffs of air and mist simulating battle conditions. The sensors can be dialed back for younger crowds as appropriate.

The trench will be similar to the one installed at the Library-Museum in the summer of 1989, although the technology will be greatly improved. It will be built by the same creative force who built the 1989 exhibit which attracted nearly 90,000 visitors for the period from April through October that year.

Stranded Overseas: Americans at the Savoy Hotel
Shipping anything around Europe during the war was hazardous, at best. Shipments in or out were frequently targeted by enemy vessels. So when the war broke out, many Americans found themselves stranded in Europe without safe passage home. A replica of the Savoy Hotel lobby will help tell the story of how Hoover was able to break the blockade and return thousands to America safely, setting Hoover firmly on a path of public service for the remaining 50 years of his life.

The Figge Auditorium 3D Theatre
The Figge Auditorium 3D Theatre will surround the visitor with a 180 degree, wrap-around video experience during their visit to the Hoover Presidential Library to a level that will bring them back for years to come.
Utilizing multiple wrap-around screens and 5 video projecters, we will be able to quickly guide the audience through Herbert Hoover's noted accomplishments and personal early history. Theatrical effects including surround sound orchestration, narration and special effects combined with 35 video screens will immerse the audience in Hoover's history making life.

SS Hannah Ship Replica Leads the Way
This outdoor portion of the exhibit will close Sunday, Oct. 25. Many people don’t realize that Hoover loaded freighters with food stuffs at his own expense and without government assistance in an effort to deliver life-sustaining morsels to European citizens whose food supply was cut off by the war.
A 1/8 scale replica of the Belgium Relief ship, the SS Hannah, is being built for display at the 2014 Iowa State Fair. The ship will tour the fairgrounds twice daily and will draw attention to the upcoming Hoover Presidential Library-Museum exhibit the following summer. In 2015, the ship will ‘dock’ at the Hoover Campus in West Branch near a model Belgian village, where visitors may receive a sample Hoover Cookie, representative of the nutritional wafers Hoover delivered.

Belgian Village
This outdoor portion of the exhibit will close on Sunday, Oct. 25. The people of Belgium are especially grateful to Herbert Hoover for his humanitarian relief effort. Many credit him for saving millions of Belgian people from total starvation. An exhibit depicting a small Belgium village will be built on the grounds of the Hoover Presidential Foundation, at the south end of Downey Trace. This exhibit will provide visitors with an immersive experience into the lives of the Belgian people during WWI.

What is a Hoover Cookie?

The cookies are symbolic of the ‘Hoover Biscuit,’ a nutritional ‘cake’ that Hoover commissioned to help sustain life among the starving. If the ‘cookie’ was all a person had to eat in a day, it was enough to keep them alive. The first unlevened cakes were packed with vital nutrients - but not a lot of flavor. Cocoa was later added to the recipe to improve the taste.

It's estimated that Hoover fed 2.5 million children between 1914 and 1918 throughout the ravaged continent of Europe. Belgium was a top priority because the tiny kingdom imported 80% of its food supply, which was cut off during the war. Hoover created the Commission for the Relief of Belgium (CRB), and is credited with saving 10 million people from starvation there.

Prepare for Your Visit

The exhibit runs from April through October of 2015. With five new displays, there will be A LOT to see and do. We don't want you to miss any of it! Consider a visit now, so you'll have ample time to explore the permanant exhibits and buildings in the surrounding National Historic Site. The site includes Hoover's birthplace cottage, his father's blacksmith shop, the Friends Meeting House where the Hoover family worshipped, the graves of Herbert and his first lady, Lou Henry Hoover, and other sites. Historic downtown West Branch is just a block away and contains several unique eateries, 15 buildings on the National Historic Record and shopping. Everything is within walking distance and it's a great way to learn about our 31st president.

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