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Harry S. Truman Library
Client: Harry S. Truman Library
Project Type: Re-design of replicated Oval Office and new White House Gallery
After leaving the presidency, Harry S. Truman oversaw the construction of his presidential library between 1955 and 1957. John G. Waite Associates, working with exhibit designer Chermayeff-Geismar, was responsible for the design of the new White House gallery at the library, including a new exhibit space and a replicated Oval Office.
The re-created Oval Office represents the appearance of the room during Truman’s administration, including his use of state-of-the-art radio and television technology.
Using shop drawings and architectural drawings for the 1934 renovations of the White House, JGWA developed spaces that evoke the stately presence and the rich ornamental details of the West Wing of the White House and provide a transitional area between other exhibition areas and the replica Oval Office. New details include ornate plaster cornices, new woodwork, a polished cork herringbone floor, skylights, doors and lighting. The spaces now also house a permanent exhibit on Truman’s daily life in the White House and his impact on its physical environment.
After investigating descriptions and photographs of Truman’s redecoration of the Oval Office, architectural drawings, and evidence from the White House, the firm determined that numerous modifications were necessary to accurately interpret the room. These included new finishes, a new lighting system, replication of lighting fixtures, and modification of the existing mechanical systems. JGWA also analyzed the room’s furnishings, developed a new furnishings plan, and reproduced missing elements including fabrics and carpet. Televisions and radios of the same makes and models as those used by Truman were found and installed in the room. The re-created Oval Office now reflects Truman’s personal style and his use of state-of-the-art technology during his tenure in the White House.