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Lexington , Kentucky
October 24, 2006
From journal Jimmy Carter Center
June 14, 2005
A visit to the Carter Center should start with a walk through the grounds. The center's buildings, all of which look like recently landed UFOs, are set on the top of some lovely rolling hills overlooking two pretty lakes. There's a koi pond containing spectacular fish (rumor has it that they're worth $25,000 each, although it's hard to imagine how you could sell one on the black market) and a sloping Japanese garden. In various places around the grounds there are statues that were given to President Carter to commemorate various good works: these range from a rather comical iron silhouette of an elk, memorializing the creation of some national park in Alaska, to a really moving statue of an old man being led by a young boy, in honor of the Carter Center's work in eradicating river blindness.
The museum, too, is a blend of rather comic politics and real, earnest good works. The exhibits are pretty predictable: information about Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter's childhoods, marriage, and career, culminating in the White House, with exhibits on the various crises’ and achievements during the Carter presidency. These seem to be handled pretty well. Naturally, the museum is not likely to be highly critical of Carter's work, but it doesn't gloss over the problems of the energy or hostage crises. But there's also some fun stuff, including a mock-up of the Oval Office containing a replica of the spectacular carved desk Carter used during his presidency. (The White House still owns the original, which was made out of timber taken from a captured French ship.)
The grounds are lovely and the museum is interesting, but the most appealing and unusual aspect of the Carter Center is not open to tourists. Carter's presidency is long over, but his work goes on, in the form of the Center's many projects promoting sustainable development, health programs, and democratic processes around the world. The center provides mediators to help resolve countries' internal conflicts, sends observers to help ensure fairness in contested elections, and works with medical suppliers to distribute medicine to prevent river blindness and provide treatment for guinea worm (a really loathsome parasite). There's a large internship program, so the enthusiastic young person you run into in the hallway may well be about to fly out to help build the Liberian governmental infrastructure. It's an exciting place.
From journal Atlanta Lowdown
March 15, 2002
The Carter Presidential Center houses the Jimmy Carter Museum and Library. To truly enjoy the museum, you probably have to be somewhat interested in American and Presidential history. If you're not, I'd skip the Carter Center. Personally, I'm a pretty big history buff, and I really enjoyed the museum. The museum has a recreation of the Oval Office as it looked during Jimmy Carter's presidency, and exhibits and memorabilia from his days in office and his major policies and issues, from human rights concerns to establishing a formal relationship with mainland China to skyrocketing gas prices to the Iran hostage crisis. There are also pictures and a history of his childhood and political life before the presidency.
The library is separate, and we did not go to it, but the museum does have a window into the library and talks about the resources that are available in the Library.
Overall, the Carter Center was very enjoyable, but if you don't enjoy history you will probably be slightly bored and think that it is not worth the $5.00 admission price.
For more information on the Carter Center and mission and efforts of the Carter Center Organization, visit the Carter Center website.
From journal Atlanta vacation in March